Monday, January 31, 2011

Walking The Dogs

On Sunday morning Liz and I took the dogs on a circular walk around Castell Dinas Bran. Although we didn't climb up to the top there were still plenty of stops to view the scenery (get my breath back). The views were stunning as it was a clear day. Liz had to keep an eye on Connie's pad as it started to bleed. Later in the day she was bandaged up again, although she's quite an expert at bandage removal.

Today I have been up the field by Llangollen Mooring Basin with Eric and Ben the dog. Connie's still not able to go for a walk. The sun is shining although it's still cold in Llangollen with Castell Dinas Bran shrouded in mist. I took a few video clips but as the files are so large I only mananged to upload this 9 second clip.

Update on Connie- She's been to the vet again to have pad restitched - poor Connie! She also has a 'lampshade' to stop her removing her bandages!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Connie And Ben Go Walking

Today best pals Connie and Ben had a lovely long walk together, mostly a good way ahead of their owners when allowed off their leads. Liz and I enjoyed a good chat whilst I needed a few get my breath back stops on the first hilly walk of the winter. We walked along the Llangollen Canal towards the Horseshoe Falls as far as the Chain Bridge Hotel and used the footbridge over the canal to access the road leading to Berwyn Railway Station on the A5. A little way along there's a footpath sign which leads up to a lane to the hills above Berwyn with spectacular views. We followed a well walked route enjoying the scenery before we eventually came down the lane past the thatched cottage you can see on the side of the hill overlooking Llangollen, suitable tired after a two hour hilly walk. Back on the boat Ben made himself comfortable and settled down for an afternoon nap, while Eric and I went shopping in Wrexham.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Llangollen Winter Mooring Sorted At Last!

A view of Llangollen from Barber Hill

The section of canal from Trevor to Llangollen has been open to boating since the 22/12/10 when the work on the Pentrefelin Embankment was completed. We have been waiting for the winter moorings to come online since then but problems with the work not being signed off caused the delays. Last week the water level was lowered for a check of the work to be made and finally the winter mooring came online this morning. We've bought our space until the end of March 2011 online. It seems odd to me that you then have to send a signed form and a cheque or debit card payment when boat licenses can be paid for online. Anyway I'm delighted to be back in my usual winter home.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Frankton Junction To Llangollen in 7 Hours

NB Bendigedig near Maestermyn

We were up and away by ten am- our plan was to get to Llangollen before it got dark. I walked with Ben as far as New Marton Locks, worked through the bottom lock before continuing our walk to the top lock. The lady who lives in the lock cottage came out to help us through the top lock which was very kind of her. I got back aboard to keep Eric supplied with hot drinks as it was cold, Ben would have walked even further. We didn't see a single boat on the move which meant no queues for Chirk and Whitehouses Tunnel or the Chirk and Pontcysyllte Aqueducts. It's always a slow journey against the flow of the water especially in the narrow sections and the boat struggled to go through a few of the bridge holes on the stretch from Trevor to Llangollen. Ben and I were way ahead of the boat checking no other boats were coming towards us in the narrows (one-way sections) as we walked from Sun Trevor to Llangollen along the muddy towpath. I waited on the wharf chatting to Eiddwen on NB Shush and then NB Bendigedig finally came into view with its tunnel light being used as a headlight. We were soon moored up on the wharf and it got dark really quickly so Eric ended up setting up the satellite TV in the dark. The church bells are ringing in Llangollen tonight it's bell ringing practice on Wednesday evenings.

Australia Day!

Skippy the kangaroo

It's a shark!

Connie wants a sausage!

Australia Day 2010

This time last year we celebrated Australia Day with the crew of NB Blue Toad -Mike & Moira aka ' the Toadies' from Tasmania on Llangollen Wharf. They invited everybody moored on the wharf and we all enjoyed the 'grog pot' and the 'snaggers' although it was cold for a BBQ. They sent us some photos by email to remind us, as this year the landlubbers are celebrating in Tasmania where it's much much warmer. I wonder if Skippy the kangaroo is there too. Our thoughts are with you in Tasmania.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just A Short Cruise To Frankton Junction

Last night we decided to leave Ellesmere behind and make out way back to Llangollen. Although it's wet today we were soon up and on our way to wind at the junction with the Ellesmere Arm. Eric stopped at the waterpoint to top up after doing some washing and I walked into town to post some birthday cards with Ben the dog. Back on the boat we were soon ready to go although we didn't go far as we moored just past Frankton Junction. Ben and I walked alongside the boat on a very muddy towpath but Ben was none too happy with the gun noises, so he hopped back on the boat at the next bridge hole leaving me to follow him aboard. Very quiet at Frankton Junction today and it's stopped raining.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Time Flies By- Sunday Again

Winding Time

First thing this morning I cut up meat and vegetabled to make a casserole for lunch. While it slowly cooked in the oven, we had a short cruise to the BW Ellesmere Services where the various tanks were filled or emptied and the rubbish got rid of. Leaving Eric to finish filling the water tank I set off for a walk with Ben along an extremely wet and muddy towpath towards Tetchill before turning around and walking back to Ellesmere. We got as far as the turning circle to find Eric winding (turning around) the boat to go back to our mooring spot. The boat was soon moored up and we popped into Tesco to get some dog food and a newspaper before eating the casserole. There followed the usual lazy Sunday afternoon reading the paper and doing the puzzles to keep the brains active. Its very quiet here on the boating front with just one boat passing us all day. Lots of walkers passing though out for their Sunday stroll with and without dogs. Ben is keeping an eye on them all from the boat window.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our Smoke Alarms Don't Like The Cold

Last winter after a death in Llangollen caused by a fire Wrexham Fire Brigade was offering to give houses a fire safety check. After a chat they offered to check any boats on the wharf that wanted their services, an appointment was made and they fitted new smoke alarms. The batteries fitted supposedly had a ten year life but last night when the temperature fell to 10 degrees C they wouldn't stop chirping. The only way to silence them was to follow the instruction and cut the red wire and this I did at 5 o'clock in the morning. They offered a replacement service with a phone number but as we're not in Llangollen it was easier to buy some new ones. So this morning it was off to Tesco for a couple of FireAngel smoke alarms just £6.50 each and if the batteries get low at least I can change the batteries. The only problem now is how to dispose of the old alarms which mustn't be put in household rubbish.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Brr It's Cold- Chirk To Ellesmere

NB Bendigedig leaving New Marton Bottom Lock

A cold and frosty Friday morning

On Thursday morning we left our mooring spot near Chirk Marina with a mental note not to moor near there again. OK we got a satellite signal but the noise of the trains going past would wake the dead. All night you could strange noises which we heard again as we passed the huge industrial site near Chirk with its pair of belching chimneys. Ben and I walked as far as Chirk Tunnel before getting on board to go through the tunnel and across the Chirk Aqueduct.There was actually a boat waiting to go through the tunnel aqueduct. Ben and I continued our walk later near New Marton. Although the sky was blue it was getting increasingly cold so after working through New Marton Locks we decided to moor up. It proved to be a good choice of mooring we had a satellite signal and it was so quiet we knew we'd get a better night's sleep. It failed on two points though no phone or internet signal so I read my book! The fog came down overnight but it was gone in the morning but the ground was frozen and covered in white frost.

On Friday morning we decided to go as far as Ellesmere as we needed to get some food. We used the last bit of cheese and bread to have cheese on toast for lunch on the go. Ben and I walked for an hour or so before I was flagging and needed a ride, as usual he could have walked a few more miles. We passed NB Cinnabar with Janet collecting wood along the towpath, David said they'd sink if anymore went on the roof! Finally we moored up and I set off to get some food while Eric warmed up by the fire. I also got some chocolate as I needed a chocolate fix- I can't live without chocolate!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Today is our youngest daughter's birthday.
Gerwyn took the photo of Lisa with their daughter Gwenllian.

A Little Trip- Llangollen To Chirk

Bridge 45 Llangollen Wharf

Near the Lift Bridge No 44

Bridge 42
We woke up this morning and decided to move from Llangollen. A stoppage notice appeared on the notice board by the moorings telling us of no navigation on the Llangollen to Trevor section on Thursday and Friday as the water level was being lowered for inspection of the Pentrefelin Embankment. Despite an early frost it was a bright sunny day with no wind making a cruise very pleasant. Ben and I walked ahead to check for boats coming towards us from the mooring basin as Eric needed to turn the boat around. Then we walked the two narrow sections phoning him when he needed to wait and when he could come through. We decide to leave and three boats were going up to Llangollen despite the stoppage. At Sun Trevor Ben and I jumped on board , Ben wasn't too dirty but my boots were thick with mud.
First stop was at Anglowelsh for diesel and Eric had to reverse between the boat width gap as the hire boats are moored for the winter. It was the new low sulphur fuel so let's hope it doesn't cause us any problems. Then slowly across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and through the Froncysyllte Lift Bridge, I stopped counting after fifty turns to raise it and the same again to lower it. We met Mac and Sue on NB Barney and told them about the stoppage which put paid to their visit to Llangollen as they needed to move on the Friday when the levels would be down. We moored up near Chirk Marina as we knew we could get good satellite and phone signals. The train lines a bit close so its ear plugs tonight.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NB Henry's On The Move

Nick steering NB Henry

On Tuesday Ben and I walked the narrows between Llangollen and Sun Trevor with Liz and Connie, ahead of NB Henry supposedly to make sure the way was clear. We met two boats, the first between the the narrow scection before the lift bridge so that was OK. Due to a lack of communication NB Henry met NB Inkie and I at the sharp bend which is the beginning of the next narrow section but with some reversing by NB Henry there was no problem. Connie wasn't hampered by her plastic bag covered foot and enjoyed a run with Ben- I hope she didn't pay for it later. We said our goodbyes as Liz and Connie got back onboard before the Sun Trevor muddy towpath section and Ben and I headed back to Llangollen. It had been a lovely walk but it was feeling colder.

Back on the boat Eric had been very busy giving the carpet a good vacuum, the boat gets incredibly hairy with Ben the dog onboard. The dishes were done and the water tank was being filled so I could get some washing done while we still had shoreline. The rest of the day was occupied by us relaxing, watching TV, surfing the net and reading a book, although Ben was kept busy barking at the dogs who dared to walk past his boat.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Enjoying The Scenery

A view of Llangollen from the canal

Ben had to be in the picture!

Today Eric and I took Ben walking to Horseshoe Falls, Connie had to stay by her boat as she's only allowed short walks with her plastic bag on her foot. Walking alongside the canal you run alongside the River Dee and it's fierce with lots of white water and flood warnings are now in place. You could see where the work has been done on the Pentrefelin Embankment to reline the canal to stop the water leaking back into the Dee and there's a new path making it easier to walk. We went into the Chain Bridge Hotel for a couple of coffees before walking to the falls. Ben had to be in the photograph- he wanted us to throw a stick but the water was too fierce for paddling.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Few More Days In Llangollen

Connie in the snow at Horseshoe Falls

Eric's been busy down the engine hole, he serviced the engine having bought some oil at Anglowelsh in Trevor. He had 5 litres of Morris Golden Film 10/40 but couldn't get any more without a two week wait, so he had no choice but to buy some from Anglowelsh's big drum of 10/40 oil. We had the filters needed already as ABC at Blackwater Meadow sell some Beta Marine stuff but no alternator belts to fit a Beta 43. We've found the other ABC boatyards at Wrenbury and Whitchurch far more helpful and willing to get spares they didn't have in stock. ABC Blackwater wanted two weeks to get us the oil we needed and after talking to other boaters the treatment we received is the norm.

Today Liz and I planned a long walk but the best laid plans went wrong. Connie went foraging in the undergrowth and came out limping. She'd cut a pad on the back of one of her front legs so we had to turn back, luckily we hadn't gone very far. Liz had trouble stopping the bleeding so they ended up at the vet's and Connie needed three stitches. So no long walks for a while. Ben and I walked up to Sun Trevor along the towpath in the rain with nobody else about, but he missed his pal Connie.
Thanks Alfred for your email about ordering oil online, but it's not easy when you're out on the boat to get things delivered. Poste Restante doesn't accept courier deliveries so you have to find a willing boatyard.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Change Of Scenery

Update: Thanks to the anonymous comment on my last post pointing out their problem was due to being on shoreline and gassing batteries - our problem seems to be solved. If we just put them on charge for a couple of hours twice a day then our CO alarm is silent. Nick lent us another CO alarm just to check ours but so far neither of them have sounded. We know we need a new set of batteries as soon as funds allow it.

We've spent the last few days in Llangollen, it's nice to have a different view from the window. Ben's enjoying his walks up to the field near the mooring basin where we can have a ball playing session with the thrower and that's interspersed with dips in the canal with his ball. He's also delighted Connie (NB Henry) is next door to play with.

We had a few days with snow and ice when the paths were very slippery but it's now been washed away by all the rain. It's warmed up so it's more pleasant to be out and about. It also means the water pipes on the wharf have thawed so we don't have to take a trip up to the mooring basin to find a working tap to fill the water tank. Until yesterday we've had to use buckets of canal water to keep the elsan smelling sweet but at least we didn't have a frozen canal to contend with. Some boaters are still frozen in so I'm glad we escaped the ice when we did.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Alarms! (Again)

I'm used to the smoke alarm going off in the galley when cooking especially when frying or grilling so I usually put it under a pillow until I've finished. Don't worry it's quite safe as I don't leave the cooker unattended. Last night the carbon monoxide alarm went off again- it must be something to do with Llangollen as we visited here at the beginning of November and replaced door and glass seals then so I know they're OK. Anyway we opened doors and windows to blow out the invisible CO and then increased the draught on the fire and closed the open windows and doors. Anyway it didn't go off again so I'm wondering if it's something to do with down draught on the chimney because of where we're moored or perhaps we need a taller chimney.

A Snowy Walk To Horseshoe Falls

Ben at Horseshoe Falls

A walk was planned last night by text, so Liz and I set off with Connie and Ben to walk to the Horseshoe Falls. It was still snowing but a lovely walk with soft snow beneath our feet. I love the snow when it's new, it's when it melts and freezes the problems start. Ben and Connie love being out and didn't care that it was snowing. Ben even had his usual paddle waiting for someone to throw a stick. The photo shows the Horseshoe Falls which is something of a let down if you expect a falls, but if you think that's it's man-made semicircular weir it's more spectacular. It was designed by the famous engineer Thomas Telford in 1806 to feed the Llangollen Canal, which in turn feeds Hurleston Reservoir. Back on the boat Ben had a rub down with a towel and then settled down for a nap. NB Shush arrived on the wharf when we were out walking. Later we popped up to say hello and Ben was delighted that Eiddwen gave him some biscuits.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Mr Mandarin Duck In The Snow

This morning we woke up to snow and it's still falling, the forecasts were certainly correct. Mr Mandarin Duck came visiting with his other half but she wasn't brave enough to have her photograph taken as the flash went off. Not a good picture by any means but it shows the snow. I think there's now a pair of ducks and a male youngster but I could be wrong and it's just the same male.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Visit To Llangollen

Chirk Aqueduct

Reflections of Chirk Tunnel

A first glimpse of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

A view of Dinas Bran from Sun Trevor
Look whose still at Llangollen- Mr Mandarin Duck

Today we left Poacher's Pocket and cruised across Chirk aqueduct and through Chirk Tunnel and as usual the boat went crab like through the tunnel. For some reason we never seem to go straight. It's been bitterly cold but it was great to see our first glimpse of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct as I walked along part of the Offa's Dyke footpath which is the towpath on the canal with Ben the dog. I raised the lift bridge at Fron to let NB Bendy through and then lowered it again before getting back on the boat to cross the aqueduct, as I've said before I don't like heights so I didn't fancy walking across.

We broke ice to get between the Anglowelsh hire boats as far as the diesel pump but none was for sale until the new low sulphur diesel is delivered. They did sell us some oil as Eric needs to do an oil change. Eric reversed back to the junction but we had to wait to go through the bridge to Llangollen as some workmen were putting up bridge numbers from a floating pontoon. Ten minutes later we were on the final stretch to Llangollen. Not the easiest section as it's particularly shallow and the bottom of the boat scraped through some of the bridge holes. Ben and I walked from Sun Trevor through the mud and soon we could see Nick coming towards us with Connie. Liz had phoned earlier to invite us to dinner when we got to Llangollen so she was busy on the boat cooking. We moored up with the help of Nick and soon we were enjoying a lovely roast dinner and Eric began to thaw- he'd got very cold steering the boat.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

On The Move Day One

Busy at Ellesmere

Cruising near Tetchill

The weather forecast was correct, it certainly was windy and rained all night. We could hear ice scraping past the boat. In the morning it was still raining so I put on the wet gear for walk with Ben before we headed down to the waterpoint. Eric went off to get a couple of bags of coal once we were turned around and I filled the boat with water and got rid of the rubbish. Soon we were ready to go - day one of our cruise to Llangollen. The rain stopped as I walked alongside the boat with Ben for an hour, he was enjoying new scenery just as much as I was. Any boats we passed asked if you could turn around at the waterpoint and the answer was yes you can but carefully due to ice and moored boats.

We enjoyed having the canal to ourselves with nobody moving except us and soon we passed Jack Mytton's and came to New Marton Locks, the bottom one was empty so it was a case of opening the gates but the top one was full so I had to empty it before we could use it. They'll be the last locks we do for a couple of months which is just as well as my wrist is still sore where I fell before Christmas. We finally stopped at Poacher's Pocket, it was getting cold and the sun was going down.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Decision Made- We're Moving Tomorrow!

We've been waiting and waiting for the thaw to clear ice at the junction with the Ellesmere Arm which is fairly thick, although a few boats have managed to ice break to get to the water point. Today a boat came through from Tetchill so we know we can get through that way. Tomorrow we're going for water and coal and we hope we can turn around. If not it's going to be a lot of reversing to get to the winding hole so we can turn around and narrowboats don't go backwards very easily.
Looking at the weather forecast it's wet, wet and wet but it's move now before the next cold snap. Liz and Nick (NB Henry) and Connie the dog came visiting this afternoon, it was great to see them although Ben was a bit of a pain with Connie and she's so good. They had driven along the route of the canal and checked for ice at various points including New Marton Locks and tell us the route is clear once we're past Frankton Junction, so it's time to leave our spot in Ellesmere for different views. Let's hope we have lots of rain tonight to thaw that junction but it's Llangollen here we come even if the first part of our journey is backwards!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

An Adventure- Ice Breaking To The Waterpoint

We watched NB Inkie and I make a break for it doing a little ice breaking to get to the waterpoint and decided to tackle the short stretch of ice between our two boats and fill up our water tank too as soon as Ron returned to his mooring. He did an excellent job of icebreaking by the waterpoint but was unable to get through a thick sheet of ice which would help NB Shush get free too. Ron reversed back and we did our ice breaking but we had a short wait as another boat with Janet and David had beaten us to it. They reversed past us freeing up the waterpoint and while we filled up Eric went for some fuel and gas. Our turn to reverse back to our mooring very slowly using the boat poles to help steer. Chores done time for a Sunday roast which had been cooking in the oven- yum yum roast pork with crackling!

Still Waiting- Not Thawed Yet!

I took Ben for an early Sunday morning walk to see what the ice was like near Tetchill and it isn't thawed yet. One boat had escaped his mooring and had broken ice a few hundred yards towards Ellesmere and you could see the ice was fairly thick where he'd broken through. Some unusual sights though, I've seen a field with loads of Canada Geese but I've never seen a field of thirty swans in some green crop or other.

We'd need to back up to the turning circle to move and that's still ice! The pictures shows the ice near NB North Star who are patiently waiting for a thaw. Today's adventure is a very short cruise to the waterpoint and then some reversing back to our mooring as there's no hope of turning around at the junction with the Ellesmere Arm it's over five inches thick where NB Shush is currently moored ! The ice on the Arm itself is about eight inches thick.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

It's 2011- Let's Hope It's A Good One

Nothing much happening as we wait for the thaw to get rid of all the ice. Today it's thinned and thawed around the boat but we'd like to see flowing water again so we can move without ice breaking. We are still carrying water, coal and fuel to the boat but at least we are quite near the services. Hopefully we'll be cruising again soon. May we wish you a Happy New Year and hope 2011 will be a good one for you.