Friday, December 30, 2011

Another Trip To South Wales

Yesterday Eric caught the afternoon train back to Newport as he had another hospital appointment Friday afternoon. So it was just an overnighter at daughter Clare's house. They had a chinese take away so they didn't have to cook. Clare is suffering at the moment with a bad back........what a family! I've just spoken to Eric on the phone and he's on his way back to north Wales. But the bad news is he's got another appointment at the Eye Clinic next Friday afternoon as they're not very happy with how his eye is progressing and need to keep an eye on it!  

Today Liz was feeling better so she came walking in the woods with Connie. The dogs had a good time even though it started to rain, running in the woods while we took our time as it was a bit slippery underfoot and we weren't feeling particularly energetic. As usual Ben was interested in big sticks and Connie was following scents.

Now I am going to make a beef curry for tea- with a jar of Patak's sauce of course, so I know it'll taste OK. Ben will get a taste of the beef before I add the sauce, I know I spoil him!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Back On NB Bendigedig

Yesterday after an uneventful journey we've returned to Llangollen. We had a few hold ups around Hereford but as our route was A roads rather than motorway it didn't cause us any problems. Ben was a very good boy travelling in the boot area (with the parcel shelf removed) just looking out of the rear window. I was surprised he didn't curl up and go to sleep but he did that when we were back on our floating home.We stopped on the way for comfort breaks and to pick up milk, bread and a cooked chicken for tea. It's nice to go away but it's always nice to be back home. We need a couple of days to relax after a hectic week. I expect our daughter Clare is glad to have her house back!

Today it was back to normal with a walk with Liz and Connie, not a long one as Liz is suffering with a cough and a cold. The weather further north is certainly cooler than down south, with a cold wind.  I've been busy catching up with the washing, it's just as well we've got a drier  although the shirts get hung up on coathangers so it still looks like a laundry. They soon dry with the heat from the fire.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve In Rainy Newport

Since we came to Newport it's been hectic and today was no exception, first I had to collect the presents from my dad's house. I'd bought and wrapped them on my last trip to Newport  and left them at his house until today.

Ben with his Christmas squeaky didn't last the day! (photo by Clare)

Next it was  Ben's walk as he needed to be exercised as we were out all afternoon at our daughters Christmas Eve Party as she was working over Christmas. The weather was wet wet wet and there we were playing ball at Tredegar Park........we must be mad. There were other dog walkers over there too.

The dummy tree ( photo by Robin)

We had a lovely afternoon made extra special by granddaughter Gwenllian opening some early presents. The Christmas tree was a little unusual as hanging on it were numerous dummies. Her mother's idea  was to let Father Christmas have the dummies in exchange for a pet so Gwenllian is swapping her dummies for a pet rabbit. 

I took some photos but didn't bring the lead to download them onto the computer......we always forget something! All that remains for me to write is we hope you have a................................

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mudlarking In Wales

Ready to paddle.....plenty of mud
Apart from shopping and visiting family I've been walking some familiar haunts including the Alt-yr-yn Nature Reserve area which runs alongside the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. You may have seen the canal if you've travelled the M4 between Brynglas Tunnels at Newport and Tredegar Park roundabout and you've certainly heard about that section of the M4 if you listen to Radio 2 as it's notorious for accidents. It was strange for Eric to drive along as it's now got variable speed limits on this section of motorway.

There was certainly plenty of mud about and it was a case of me squelching with the boots getting heavier as the mud accumulated but Ben light footed through it. Luckily I'd planned our route back to include a paddle in a shallow section of canal and a bucket of water, a cloth and a towel were waiting outside Clare's house to clean the dog and my boots!

Eric's been busy with an appointment at the eye clinic and the specialist said 'oh dear' when he looked in the offending eye, followed by 'the iritis is back with avengeance'. Eric wasn't thrilled either as it can be painful and it means weekly visits from north to south Wales  for about six weeks. Luckily the one set of drops dilate the pupil and therefore ease the pain.

Today it's more visiting and a cleaner walk over Tredegar  Park with a ball thrower in the rain. Ben will be dirty but we'll be cleaner as there's hard pathways rather than mud. My dad will have to provide the bucket and the cloth when we get there!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Back Home For Christmas

On Tuesday we did the journey by car rather than going by train to stay with our daughter Clare in Newport for Christmas. We weren't sure whether we'd actually have a car after a phone call from Enterprise telling us they didn't have a car although we'd had a booking since the beginning of November. They knew another firm so they gave us their number to ring them up and it was all arranged. Enterprise did actually pick us up as arranged and take us to the new place called 'Jolly Good Van Hire'.....they also hire cars! We ended up with a VW Golf with just 6,000 miles on the clock and as we only needed to show a driving licence it was certainly less fuss than Enterprise who always ask for several proofs of we'll probably be using them again.

The journey down was uneventful with no hold ups other than slow traffic through Hereford. Ben travelled in the luggage area with the parcel shelf removed so he was a very good boy. Basically it will be easier to keep the car hair free if he travels in the boot. He was quite comfy with his blanket and he had a few comfort breaks as it took us four hours to make the trip. It's quicker by train but not as convenient due to the lack of transport over the holidays and the fact that lots of taxi drivers in Newport don't want dogs in their cabs. The evening was spent relaxing, Eric's got achy arms as he's not used to driving a car on a long journey.  We had a chinese take away and Ben sampled the chicken in batter.

On Wednesday it was time to face the Asda crowds and fill up the cupboards and fridge ready for the Christmas festivities. First of all I needed to exercise Ben the dog so we headed for Tredegar Park with plenty of room for him to have a good run. We had the company of a 16 week old pup who wanted to play chase and come with us rather than her owner. Eric stayed with Ben in the car while I filled a trolley with lots of nice food. He thought I'd got lost I was so long but I had to make sure I got everything on the list as I wanted it to be my one and only trip to a superstore.

Eric woke this morning  with a sore eye so I made him an appointment at the doctor's in the afternoon. It's uveitis (again) and he's off to see the specialist at the eye clinic tomorrow. You can't fault the NHS in this case. I'm glad the shopping's done as Eric won't be able to drive with the drops they put in his eye.

We've been visiting our granddaughter Gwenllian this evening whose counting down the days or should I say nights until Father Christmas comes. Only four sleeps to go! It's great having a youngster in the family again as it just makes Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Lunch At 'The Cowshed'

We've been lucky, we've had rain, hailstones and sleet but no snow on the lower ground although it's certainly cold enough for snow. Our walk this mornings  took Liz and I through the town and up to Pen-y-coed woods following tracks new to us. The dogs had a lovely time as  we did a circular route before coming back through the town. The views were great as we could see all the snow on the Llantisilio Mountains as well as views of Castell Dinas Bran and Trevor Rocks. It was a change to walk new territory as the dogs could run in the woods which were so peaceful. We'd passed the kissing gate leading to the woods  but hadn't ventured through before. We try to avoid the towpath walks at the weekend as it can be very busy.

Dogs walked we left them on the boats to have lunch at 'The Cowshed'. I had no idea where we were going at Liz and Nick were taking us there. We arrived at the Plassey Shippon and found the restaurant to be a converted cowshed with the tables having the names of cows in each individual stall. Our table was in Ethel's stall! A lovely meal with good friends, although we were surprised to see the restaurant was really quiet with lots of unfilled tables even though it was Sunday lunch. Now I know why Liz told me we were going to 'The cowshed!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Connie's Back After Her Holiday

Ben pinned down by Connie (taken 2009)

On Monday Connie returned to Llangollen with her owners Liz and Nick and Ben was first to spot her return by whining at the window. They were soon reunited and Ben was delighted as they played as Connie was in chase me mode.  It was great to have our neighbours back, it's been very quiet here on Llangollen Wharf.

On Tuesday  Liz and I took the dogs to Horseshoe Falls along the canal towpath, it was very cold wind so we didn't fancy taking to the hills. Plenty of water in the River Dee and the water was certainly crashing over the weir. It was a good walk with lots to talk about as they'd been away a few weeks. While we were out walking and talking the coalman delivered some coal so we're prepared for the forecasted bad weather now.

Overnight we had loads of rain which meant it was hammering on the boat roof so I resorted to ear plugs. Today we were out for a couple of hours as we walked the Valle Crucis Abbey Walk and we didn't meet the ram on the hill which was good news. Connie was soon head down on the scent of something once we'd walked through the sheep fields, but she didn't go too far. It was incredibly muddy after all the rain, so we squelched along. Our route back was via the mooring basin so Ben and Connie could have a wash in the shallow canal to get rid off some of the dirt they'd managed to cover themselves in.

We came back to the boats to find NB Henry across the canal on a long rope as Nick was decorating a Christmas tree on the offside bank, it now looks very pretty. I wonder if we'll wake up to snow in the morning, we've escaped it so far.

Update on Eric- he's much better after the doctor prescribed antibiotics for his chest infection.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Little Bit Of Christmas

A little bit of Christmas has come to NB Bendigedig with some dangling baubles and twinkly blue lights adorning the windows and a tiny live tree with lights and baubles on. Ben's not sure what to make of it so he just sniffed it. It's not big enough to be the kind of stick he likes to carry when we're out walking.  Ben's walk this morning was later than usual as the rain was hammering down. It stopped for a while so he managed a walk without getting too wet although he usually manages to find some mud and puddles to splash in. I'd prepared a beef casserole which was simmering nicely when we left ready for Sunday lunch.

After lunch Eric's caught the afternoon train back to Newport as he's suffering with a nasty cough and it's getting worse not better so he needed to see a doctor. If he goes to our doctor he doesn't need an appointment in the morning as it's an open surgery while in Llangollen it's an appointment which may be days away. He took advantage of the Arriva trains Club 55 deal £18 return between two Welsh stations but the deal finishes on the 14th of December. It's a pity because the fare is over £50 unless you've got a railcard or book in advance.

So tonight it's quiet on NB Bendigedig, Ben is stretched out on the sofa having a little sleep after a ball playing session with a squeaky ball.  I can't believe he still hasn't destroyed it as he usually bites through and tears any soft toys. Eric's staying with our daughter Clare but will be back tomorrow so I'm only home alone for one night!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Wind, Sun, Rain, Hailstones and Sleet

Llangollen- a view from the canal

This week we've had lots of windy weather but we seemed to have escaped the dreadful storms seen on the news. There's been rain most days so it's been a case of donning the waterproofs for dog walking. This morning the sun was shining, the sky was blue and it looked as though it was going to be a lovely day and then suddenly the weather changed just as I was going out with the dog.  Hail stones, sleet and rain but no snow yet! Ben didn't mind having his coat covered in hail stones as long as we went for a walk.

We headed towards the Horseshoe Falls  walking along the towpath which overlooks the town of Llangollen. In the photo you can see 'The Bridge Inn' which does lovely Sunday lunches. On the walk we met some people enjoying canoeing on the canal, Ben was very interested in their floats marking out their course as he thought they were balls and he loves a ball. The River Dee was very fierce with lots of white water but nobody was mad enough to be canoeing on the river.

Can I have that ball? (it's a float)

Back on the boat it was time to dry off Ben the dog and leave him with Eric while I walked down to change my library books at Llangollen Library and picked up a loaf of bread to make a sandwich for lunch. After that we had a lazy afternoon and Mr Tesco did a delivery for us at four o'clock including  some bags of dog food. It certainly nice to have the heavy stuff delivered to the boat.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A Sprinkling Of Snow On The Mountains

Hoar frost on an Ellesmere Sculpture
This time last year we were iced in in Ellesmere going nowhere and the above photo was the view from our window. Although the wind is icy here in Llangollen and there's a sprinkling of snow on the mountains, we have only had a few sleet showers.

Today I wrapped up warm and headed up towards Castell Dinas Bran with Ben the dog. He was all for climbing the zig-zag paths to the top until I called him as  my route skirted the hill side with lots of slippery mud. Back through a sheep field and then we walked down the road to pick up a footpath through some more sheep fields taking us back down past Dinas Bran School. It was a lovely walk as we didn't meet any people or peaceful! As we came down past the school we had a heavy shower, it could have waited until we were back on the boat.

Ben needed a bowl of water to wash his feet and legs, he was filthy!  Soon though he was clean and fairly dry curled up by the fire with his head on my rag rug. My boots needed a clean too as I'd brought plenty of mud back too. At least we weren't slipping and sliding like this time last year. I've bought some spiky things to go on my boots to improve grip as I'd like to stay upright this year. Last year I had a fall and hurt my wrist which was painful for quite a while.

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Quick Update- It's December!

What I have been up to this week........nothing earth shattering. Ben and I have been walking our usual haunts taking in the scenery around Llangollen. One day we climbed Castell Dinas Bran , another day I did the round the hill route and we've been on a few walks along the towpath towards Sun Trevor as well as playing ball in the field by the mooring basin. Some days it's been busy  and other days we didn't see anybody. It's certainly colder today and out came the scarf and gloves.

Today Eric and I went by train to Shrewsbury to do a little Christmas shopping, with planning we got back in four and a half hours as Ben was OK home alone. He didn't even want to go out for a comfort break (a wee!) when we got back. Sometimes he's an odd dog easily freaked out by any strange noises, flashing lights and this means we can't get him off the boat unless we both take him!  We had to stand on the train going to Shrewsbury as there's Wales v Australia Rugby International tomorrow in Cardiff and Arriva trains put a two carriage train from Holyhead to Cardiff.......are they mad? Luckily we had seats on the return journey.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Walk To Valle Crucis Abbey

I've been  having problems with my AVG Internet Security as it kept downloading the same huge 55MB update and then not recognising it had already done it. After it repeated itself four times I realised there really was a problem and 'Help' was needed.  I  looked on the AVG  website and found a repair option in the installation downloads and after an even larger download the problem was solved......fingers crossed!

A view of Valley Crucis Abbey and Coed Hyrddyn (Velvet Hill)
On Sunday I decided to walk to see the ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey which was founded in 1201 for Cistercian monks  until it was closed in 1536 by Henry V111.  The name means the 'valley of the cross' as Eliseg's Pillar which  once stood 20 ft high with a cross on the top is nearby. We began our walk with towpath walk heading as far as the bridge before the Motor Museum.Then we walked up the road until we saw the sign advertising Abbey Farm Tea Rooms and camping pods and followed the sign with lovely views of Velvet Hill.

We climbed a stile, Ben jumped it (on his long lead) and crossed a sheep field to the next stile and then another taking us out onto a green track leading round the hillside back to Bryn hyfryd  and down the Dinbren Road back to Llangollen with great views of Castell Dinas Bran. We had fun on the track as we met a huge ram with curly horns and I decided to get out of it's way and sit on the benches off the track at the viewpoint overlooking Valle Crucis Abbey........hoping it would move off the track! A few minutes later a horse and rider came past so I warned them about the ram. We then carried on walking, no sign of the ram.....thank goodness.

A walk wouldn't be complete without a dip in the canal, no not me.... Ben! We walked back through the field near the mooring basin and Ben headed for water and had a wash, just as well as he was dirty after our walk. Back to the boat for a towel dry and some biscuits and I had a cuppa while lunch finished cooking. Yes I did take the camera, here's a couple of photos on route.

A view from the green track

A view of Castell Dinas Bran and Trevor Rocks from Dinbren Road

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Windy Weather In Llangollen

When I left the boat last Wednesday it was covered in leaves and now the wind has blown them away. Eric was right saying it was a waste of time and effort clearing them all off when high winds were forecasted.

Where have I been , you ask? Well I've been to Newport as it was time to pick up our three monthly supply of medicines waiting at our chemist. It goes like this, we post the prescription repeat to the doctors and the chemist collects it and fills the prescription. Sometimes it goes without a hitch but I usually find something is missing so I have to go back to the doctors!

Back in Newport  I had the opportunity to do some visiting and catch up with old friends for a lunchtime curry at Weatherspoon's. My daughter Lisa made me a lovely chilli con carne which Gwenllian, my grandaughter tasted for the first time. She had  more fun saying 'chilli con carne'. She was keen to tell me about the rabbit Father Christmas was going to deliver......let's hope he's got enough to go around.

While I was at Lisa's my daughter Clare came  visiting as did Eric's sister Paula who also brought the post. She was also good enough to give me a lift back to my dad's house the other side of town as I didn't fancy walking through the subways at nine o'clock at night. Lately there have been a few attacks in that location.

I didn't get to see my daughter Sally as she's out of the country with her job flying with Virgin Atlantic, but we'll see her in a few weeks as she's having Christmas Eve party before she flies off to spend Christmas somewhere exotic.

The next day I met my pals for a curry and a catch up and then did some Christmas shopping. I managed to do most of the shopping, it was so heavy I needed a taxi to get to my dad's as his house is a long way from a bus stop. It's wrapped and waiting in his house for Christmas Day when we return to Newport.  As usual I am cooking the dinner and daughter Clare will be helping. She's getting invaded for Christmas but she doesn't mind and she loves Ben the dog......hairs and all!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Misty Walk To Castell Dinas Bran

Looking  towards Velvet Hill
Llangollen becomes very busy at the weekend and the towpath is not the place to walk the dog. Today we headed for the hills and followed the track past the school and up along the part of the History Trail with a sculpture showing the way. Plenty of mud not that Ben cared!

This route took us around the back of the hill on which Castell Dinas Bran sits. It's prime position is on the site of an iron age fort. It was built in about  1260 by a Welsh prince and then abandoned and deliberately destroyed by fire in 1277 so it couldn't be used by the invading English. That's the history lesson for today.

Ben found  a bottle to carry
We then slowly climbed up the back of the hill, stopping at a seat for a breather while Ben patiently waited. A good place for a chat with my daughter Clare as the signal is excellent up there. A few walkers also appeared going slowly down the back of the hill being careful not to slip. Some were heading for the Offa's Dyke Path and Trevor Rocks.

A view of Trevor Rocks from the seat halfway up the hill
Ben waiting for me to catch him up!
The views from the top were misty today but I took a few photos before we climbed down the zig-zag path overlooking the town of Llangollen. The views are always worth the climb even on a misty day.

Looking down onto Llangollen
Velvet Hill with the mist clearing
 Back on the boat just in time to make a shepherd's pie for lunch and while it was cooking we had a tap on the window and it was the Julia and Mark of NB Poppy who are on their way to their winter mooring here too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We've Been To Specsavers!

We haven't had our eyes tested for years so we decided to visit Specsavers in Wrexham after booking online with a date and early afternoon as our choices. They rang us in the morning to give an exact time and check it was suitable. We chose early afternoon as mornings are always busy with walking Ben the dog.  In all it was a good experience with pleasant, helpful staff and we weren't surprised that we both needed new glasses. We knew what it was going to cost as we'd looked on the internet and found a 25% off offer for the over 60's which turned out to be the best option for us. We chose reactolite and varifocal lenses so  the world will be a little clearer in a weeks time when our new specs are collected.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Just A Towpath Walk

A view from the towpath
The lift bridge.....always left up

Yesterday Ben and I went on a towpath walk just as far as Sun Trevor, Ben didn't want to go any further, he just stood and looked at me. At least it was a nicer day and Castell Dinas Bran wasn't shrouded in mist. The sun managed to shine and we had blue skies. On this walk we always pass the lift bridge which is left in a raised position as I think I've only ever seen it down once when the farmer was moving animals. Last year we had to tell an enthusiastic boater not to lower it as the sheep could then walk across it to escape. It's a case of leave the lift bridges as you find them.  We walked back along the towpath, it was very quiet as no boats are moving on this stretch of canal. Sometimes the peace is shattered by the youngsters from the school doing their run ........ but not yesterday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Quick Update

It's quiet at Llangollen Wharf this year with just six boats moored up for the winter although I know of one boat on her way to moor up in December.  The weather has been kind to us as we've only had one bitterly cold day, so lots of walking has been done. After our long walk Saturday to Trevor Rocks Liz and I  had a shorter walk the next day just enjoying walking along the flat towpath as far as Sun Trevor, the new towpath surface means what was an extremely muddy path in places is now a good walk. During the weekdays there are few people about but at the weekends it's still busy.

Some boat trips across the Pontysycyllte Aqueduct are still running from Llangollen Wharf mid week and at the weekends making the most of the weather and the canal being open as last year there was a stoppage until after Christmas. Liz and I took the dogs on the bus to Trevor and we walked down to  the aqueduct and then  back along the canal towpath but I forgot to take a camera so no photos were taken. The dogs had a great time, as usual Connie was nose down seeing what she could chase and Ben was carrying big sticks, or should as I say branches and you had to keep out of his way. He did leave it behind after a bit and carried a plastic bottle instead!

On Monday after his morning walk Ben stayed on the boat while Eric and I had a trip to Wrexham. Being in Wales bus travel is still free. We sampled the fish and chips in a cafe  before going to Asda to get some shopping. Excellent fish and chips in Les' and the staff were very friendly and helpful. It was nice to have some choice in Asda as the Coop is rather limited in Llangollen although there's a good butcher, fruit and veg shop as well as a very nice deli. 

On Tuesday Eric and I had a walk with Ben to the Horseshoe Falls walking  alongside the recently repaired section of canal where a new handrail has appeared possibly because of the sloping canal sides. On the way back we did a diversion over the canal bridge and through the field by the marina so Ben could have a wash in the canal as he was so muddy. The towpath has lots of muddy puddles which are difficult to avoid when you're a dog.

Today the coal man is delivering to us on the wharf, so we'll be all set for a few more weeks. So while Eric waits for his arrival, Ben and I are going out........walking or maybe I'll ride my bike!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Views From Trevor Rocks

Castell Dinas Bran from Trevor Rocks
Castell Dinas Bran and the hills
Another view from Trevor Rocks
Velvet Hill is on the right
Today Liz and I took the dogs on a long walk taking in part of the canal towpath, foot paths up along the top of Trevor Rocks and back via the foot path around the base of Castell Dinas Bran.

Trevor Rocks is part of one of the finest carboniferous limestone escarpments in Britain extending northwards which is nationally important due to the extensive scree slopes and is an Area of Special Scientific Interest according to the guide book 'Walks Around Llangollen And The Dee Valley' by David Berry.  A very useful book with some lovely walks with detailed maps and descriptions.

We were out about four hours and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery although I was in need of a cuppa by the time we got back to the boat. After all the rain we've had the dogs got really muddy but it was soon washed away. Next job is to clean my boots!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Another Walk- Trevor To Llangollen On The Flat

The Mandarin Duck family
This week Liz and I have been out walking with the dogs enjoying the beautiful scenery around Llangollen. On Sunday we set out for a less strenuous walk around the bottom of the hill on which Castell Dinas Bran stands and ended up climbing up the back of the hill to the ruined castle. We were trying to avoid the busy towpaths and give the dogs a good run. The views were great although we have had days when the mist hung low obscuring the hills so a walk along the towpath was a better idea.

On weekdays the towpath is much quieter although there's more cyclists  now the path is a designated cycle path. Several times a day hordes of teenagers run along the towpath past the boat to the lift bridge and retrace their steps back  to their school accompanied by their teachers. Ben watches them and barks as he does to anything that moves, often we shut the bank side curtains to shut him up. Eric and I managed to miss the children on our walk to Sun Trevor yersterday but today Liz and I  met them today.

Today (Wednesday) we caught the bus to Trevor and walked the canal from Trevor Basin back to Llangollen passing Bryn Howell and Sun Trevor. The canal is so clear you can see the bottom as there's little passage of boats in the winter months. It was a pleasant flat walk which made a nice change from our hilly walks. The hills were shrouded with mist but we managed to escape the rain which came later in the afternoon.

It was great to see the Mandarin Duck family still here- mum, dad and their male offspring. This month's IWA calendar has a picture of the drake amongst the Autumn leaves floating on the canal, taken by Eric although it does say it was on the River Dee.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Bus Ride And A Walk From Trevor To Llangollen

The Pontycysyllte Aqueduct ,looking back towards  Trevor Basin
Our walk today started with a number 5 bus from Llangollen to Trevor with Liz, Connie, Ben and myself onboard. We then walked down to Trevor Basin and over the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct, which carries the canal 126 feet above the River Dee in an iron trough 1007 feet long supported by 18 pillars. It was built by Telford between 1795 and 1805 (end of history lesson) and will be closed on November 7th - 11th for maintenance.

Up above Pontycysyllte aqueduct
We then walked along the canal to cross it at Froncysyllte Lift Bridge. We crossed the A5 and began the climb up the hill to walk along the top edge of the former Pen-y-Graig Quarry with lovely views from a viewpoint overlooking the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct, the Dee Valley and of course Castell Dinas Bran. We continued our walk along a track, then a road and across a field of sheep, who all stopped and stared at the dogs. It would have made a good photo but the sun was straight at us.

The Llangollen Canal, Trevor and the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct 
 At last we were walking downhill along a track around  and down the hillside of Croes yr Esgob with a short stop at a viewpoint for a snack and a drink.  The track  overlooks Pengwern Vale and we then followed the road to pass the Outdoor Adventure Centre and climb up the hill  through Pen-y-Coed Wood. At this point the hill seemed endless as we'd been walking for  hours!  Finally on the downhill section into Llangollen and back to the boat. Mucky boots off, coat off and dinner was already cooked as I'd left a casserole in the oven on Gas Mark 1 to cook while we were out. It was delicious!

Another view of Castll Dinas Bran

Friday, November 04, 2011

Big Bangs And Lots Of Little Bangs

This week has been a bit of a trial for Ben as every night we'd had firework noises and Ben just hides and shakes. I think fireworks should only be allowed on November 5th and then we would a scared dog for one night only. Tonight we had a huge bang on the boat roof about 8 pm and wondered what an earth is was, so went outside to investigate.  A wooden planter complete with plants had been dropped on the roof by some individuals. It was  heavy  so it wasn't easy to put this on the roof as we found on when we returned it to its home  by the BW hut.  But the reason why it was put there.......I just don't know!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Just Another Walk

Overlooking the River Dee and the Llantysilio Mountains
Castell Dinas Bran from the other side of Llangollen
Today Liz and I took the dogs along the canal towpath towards Horseshoe Falls, but we crossed the Llangollen Canal over an iron footbridge near the Chain Bridge Hotel. This led to the road taking us over the River Dee to the A5 to pick up our route up the hill.  Once up there the views were lovely of the river and the Llantysilio  mountains. Ben and Connie enjoyed some off the lead time along green tracks to a viewpoint giving a clear view of Castell Dinas Bran on the other side of the town. After a rest we continue  our journey which was mainly downhill taking in a wood which lots of fallen leaves which meant it was very slippery but we managed to stay upright.  We walked quite a few miles today and I knew it but Ben still wanted to play ball when we got back to the boat. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Walk To The Horseshoe Falls

Ben paddling in the River Dee 'throw me a stick!'
Today we decided on a walk to Horseshoe Falls along side the shallow canal only used by wild life, canoes and the horse-drawn boats. Yesterday we saw the horse-drawn boats in action, but today the stables are shut up and the horses have gone to their winter pastures for a well earned rest. The dogs could run on the towpath with no chance of meeting a horse. Llangollen is much quieter today, half term is over and most of the visitors have gone.  Just a few dog walkers on the towpath and a few walkers on their way to the falls too.

Horseshoe Falls is a  crescent shaped weir rather than a falls and from here the water is taken from the River Dee to begin it's 44 mile journey to Hurleston. At the beginning  (or end) of the canal is a valve house which controls the flow of the water into the Llangollen Canal. Ben enjoyed a paddle in the River Dee in the shallows and Connie came in for a quick dash into the water and out hoping Ben would chase her. She was so quick I didn't get chance to take her photo. All Ben really wanted was me to throw a stick, but there weren't any about.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

To The Top Of Castell Dinas Bran

Castell Dinas Bran in sight
Yes I remembered about the clocks going back, up bright and early for a walk before lunch. Liz was game for a walk up Castell Dinas Bran so off we went with the dogs, past the school, through a field with some sheep, up a lane and along the track leading to the  large green area you can see in the photo.

Getting closer!

Nearly there!

We made it!
Every year we make this climb at least once, usually a slow process as we follow the zig-zag path up the hill.  Connie went walkabout with her nose on some scent or other, but she came back eventually when she was called.  Ben was more interested in a man and his ball playing with his dog and tried to join in the game. Ben knocked me over by running into the back of my legs but it was landing on springy grass so no harm done.

Back down the hill for a quick shower and a change of clothes as we were having lunch at 'The Bridge Inn' with Liz, Nick, Maggie and Bernie. It was very nice too, as always the Sunday roast is highly me.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Back In Llangollen

Trevor Rocks
Yesterday the last bit of our cruise was completed, I walked ahead with Ben to check if other boats were coming through the narrows and rang Eric to let him know. Plenty of room on the moorings and soon we were moored up on the wharf at Llangollen. Shortly afterwards along came Liz and Connie followed by NB Henry. NB Blue Diamond are here now too, so we're all settled  ready for whatever the weather throws at us.

This morning Liz and I set off with the dogs to do a circular walk around the base of the hill on which Castell Dinas Bran sits,  giving us great views of Trevor Rocks. After seven months of fairly level walks the climb up wasn't speedy, but the dogs enjoyed the freedom until we came across some sheep.  The rest of the walk was down hill along a country lane leading back to Llangollen Wharf. We were lucky we missed the rain.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Over The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Waiting to cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Yes it did rain yesterday, but we donned the waterproofs and continued heading towards our winter home. We parted company with Liz and Nick after the Fron Lift Bridge as they needed water and continued on ahead across the aqueduct to get the diesel tank topped up. We had to wait for a boat to come across before it was our turn. It was coffee time at Anglowelsh so by the time we had refuelled NB Henry had caught us up. They were having pump out  as well as diesel and planning to stay at Trevor, so we continued on our way and stopped at Sun Trevor. Not the quietest of places but convenient for Eric to get his eye checked out at Maelor. He tried to get an appointment at the doctors in Llangollen but the earliest was in ten days time. Not really good enough when you are in pain and it's possibly a recurrence of  uveitus which needs immediate treatment.

Already moored here is NB Blue Diamond on their way to their winter moorings too. A little later NB Henry came and moored up in front of us, they'd changed their minds about staying at Trevor. The towpath from Trevor to Llangollen is now that grey gritty stuff which is better than thick mud.It does mean that the number of places to moor has been reduced as you can't really hammer pins into this surface. Luckily at Sun Trevor there's rings.

Eric was quickly back from Maelor Hospital in Wrexham after a thorough examination of the offending eye by several doctors. They diagnosed an infection and a course of antibiotics so that's good news as uveitis takes weeks to treat.

In the evening we all had a boaters reunion at the nearby Sun Trevor with lots to talk about as we'd all spent the  summer cruising. We'll be doing a little cruising today as it's ever so noisy on this mooring it's so close to the road.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two Tunnels, One Aqueduct , Moored Near Pentre

Yesterday after a change of plan we left New Marton, Liz and I walking the dogs and the men on the boats. We decided to have lunch at Poacher's Pocket and then carry on to just past Whitehouses Tunnel. We needed to get to Trevor before Anglowelsh's busy Friday for fuel and a pumpout for NB Henry. On the way we also need water as if the tanks are full then it's an easier trip to Llangollen as the boat is more level in the shallower water.

Progress for the boats was comparatively slow as there was a steady stream of hireboats coming towards them which meant lots of waiting at bridge holes. Plenty of room at Poacher's Pocket but the walkers arrived first followed by NB Bendigedig and later NB Henry and Nick who had come across a man in his undies in the canal trying to find a lost hammer.......brr it's cold! Out came the magnet and a very happy German family had their hammer back.

We had a lovely lunch and Liz and I continued our walk with the dogs blaming the puddings for our need to walk off the calories. I had a tuck shop specials with three different chocolate treats......highly recommended as was the chicken tikka. We walked over the Chirk Aqueduct to find a queue waiting unsure whether anyone was in the tunnel.We could the shape of a boat and worked out it was going through away from us so we walked through the tunnel to see what was going on at the other end. 

Finally through out came NB Bendigedig and a little later the deeper drafted NB Henry.  A boat had found it's way across the canal as the pins had come out and an elderly couple (older  than us!)were struggling to get it in so Eric came to the rescue and nudged it over so Liz could get the centre rope and then we managed to pull it back in just  as the young couple who owned the boat came back. They'd left their boat with parents to go shopping in Chirk but the pins had come out with all the boat traffic.

One more tunnel, no queues this time and we moored up for the night. We couldn't get satellite TV so out came the fish aerial  which found lots of channels but BBC wasn't very strong.  We're never sure which way to point it unless you can a house with an aerial nearby, so we could do with a signal finder similar to the one we have for the satellite signal. We did manage to see the weather forecast although the audio was useless, so we know it's rain today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ellesmere To New Marton Locks

NB Bendigedig in the mist
Yesterday we met up with NB Henry and set off on our travels.Despite the weather forecast it was not too windy and unpleasant.  Liz and I walked the dogs as far as Frankton Junction (about three miles) while the men played dodgems with all the hireboats at the bridge holes. Eric and I stopped at Maestermyn to arrange boat blacking for April as well as new anodes. We're also changing the propeller back to it's correct size after having a smaller one fitted when last in the dry dock purely because we couldn't get the correct size in the time we were there. Eric noticed the  loss of power and it also affected how quickly the boat stopped.

We caught up with Nick, Liz and Connie above New Marton Locks and moored behind them. This time Nick's down the engine hole servicing the engine which Liz and I have a cuppa and a natter......after all we've got seven months to catch up on!

This morning the boat felt cold as the fire had gone out, so on with the heating before we got out of bed. The fire was soon re lit. It looks cold outside too with the mist  hanging next to the ground, but it seems to be lifting as blue skies are appearing. Today we're not going far, a meal at Poacher's Pocket is planned for this evening and lots more chatting.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back Up The Frankton Locks, Back To Ellesmere

We spent last night moored on the Weston Arm. Eric reversed in which was good as when we got up the wind was really bad and it was difficult to get across to the waterpoint. I pulled her across with the help of another boater and Eric filled up before heading up to the bottom of the locks. We booked our passage for Monday so up the locks we came at midday, battling against the wind. The lock keeper crossed us off his list!

We decided to take a right turn back to Ellesmere to stop on the Arm so I could get some bread, milk, and fruit. Lots of boats about battling with the wind too as it's half term. We moored at the end of the Ellesmere Arm and I went to get the shopping  in Tesco so  now we're  ready to go to Llangollen, it just depends on the weather whether we move tomorrow.

NB Henry with Liz, Nick and Connie is moored at the Junction on their way to Llangollen too. They came onboard for a cuppa and a chat. Ben was a pain as he didn't want to share his boat with another dog......even if it was Connie!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Montgomery Canal Restoration

Looking back at the winding hole (last at the moment!)
The canal sides with growing vegetation.
Looking back at bridge 83
Looking towards Bridge 84
Looking back at Bridge 85 at Crickheath Wharf
Looking towards the stile after Bridge 85
A stile across the canal route
The pictures tell the story of the restoration in progress on the Montgomery Canal being carried out by the Shropshire Union Canal Society and the Waterways Recovery Group working on separate parts of the restoration. We'd moved from Aston Locks to Maesbury Marsh as I wanted to walk along the canal to have a look at how the restoration is getting on.

Ben and I walked along the section which is at present in water but unnavigable to give the vegetation time to grow and of course as there's no winding hole yet boats wouldn't be able to turn around anyway. I can see the progress made since we last came down with sections of canal sides and floor in place.  The canal is beginning to take shape in sections which were filled with tree roots near Bridge 85.  After that bridge the route was crossed by  a posh stile with a slide so dogs didn't have to jump it, of course Ben chose to jump clean over it rather than go through the hole when the slide was lifted! The cows had access to the route so it was time to turn around and retrace our steps back to the boat.

Back on the boat Eric was feeling much better and decided to service the engine with new filters and oil changes. He's currently busy in the engine hole......time to make him a cuppa!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reflections On The Monty

A swan at the Aston Nature Reserve
Today Ben and I left Eric on NB Bendigedig and went for a walk on the Aston Nature Reserve. He's full of cold at the moment. We saw pheasants and rabbits, walked on carpets of acorns and tracked through wet grass and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Ben waited while I took the photo of the solitary  swan with the water so still, it had a reflection.

Come on.....I'm waiting for you!

We walked back along the canal towpath to the boat, Ben got there first and posed for a photo by the boat. Staying put today enjoying the sun streaming through the's a pity Eric's nose is streaming too!

NB Bendi and Ben