Sunday, February 27, 2011

Coughs And Sneezes!

Eric and I have both picked up a cold bug so we've spent the last few days sneezing our heads off and coughing our hearts up warm and cosy on the boat. We're keeping it to ourselves as 'coughs and sneezes spread diseases' come to mind. The Coop is doing very well with the sale of tissues, cough mixture and paracetomol. I did try fresh lemon juice and honey but it tasted disgusting but everything takes yuk at the moment. The lying down bit of sleeping has been a problem as I cough so much but last night I did get a bit more sleep. Eric is currently snoring his head off in bed but he's not keeping me awake as I'm up anyway. It's his birthday today so I hope he feels a bit better because later on we have cake and trifle!
Ben had a very short walk yesterday starting with a walk along the new improved towpath which is completed for about 300 metres long and when it's finished it'll make a difference to the amount of mud my boots collect. Ben doesn't stay on the path anyway so his feet will be just as muddy. As it was pouring with rain we only walked as far as the lift bridge and back to the boat.
We've had some new arrivals now all the locks are open on the Llangollen Canal, Maggie and Bernie on NB Blue Diamond have come up for the last month of the winter mooring. They're now moored by NB Shush. It's been strange this year without NB Blue Toad and NB Libertybelle but the 'Toadies' are enjoying warmer times, landlubbers back home in Tasmania. Just another month in Llangollen before we're on the move again......plans to be made.....which way shall we go?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Another Year Older!

Time's flown by and I've not got round to blogging. Ben and I have been out walking everyday following footpath signs to see where they end up. One day we ended up doing a circular route which started with a climb up past Dinas Bran School through a field of sheep and past a house with four Golden Retrievers who snarled and barked as we passed their garden. Then it was up a lane and following the sign post which pointed right and passes some houses and a farm before going through two fields to a road. At this point you can follow the road back down hill to Llangollen but I decided to follow another footpath sign through several fields with stiles which Ben jumped over. We finally came through a field with horses in and down a lane to the canal. The canal towpath is made worse by the deep tracks of the JCB as contractors are in the process of making a new path but it seems to be a very slow process.
On Wednesday I celebrated a another birthday and Eric and I went out to lunch in Wrexham. I had cards thanks to Poste Restante at the Llangollen Post Office. I felt spoilt with chocolates, flowers, wine and lots of phone calls from our family and friends. On Sunday it's Eric's birthday so it's my chance to spoil him too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Snowdrops At Llantisilio Church

Today Eric and I walked Ben the dog past the mooring basin where a few boats are currently moored and along the canal towpath to Horseshoe Falls. Lots of people about so Ben was on his lead at times. Our destination was Llantisilio Church where we knew there would be an amazing display of snowdrops in the church yard. We stopped for a quick rest sat on the bench in the church yard and enjoyed the peaceful setting. The church was open but we didn't go inside this time. On our way back Ben and Connie met up in the field next to the Horseshoe Falls as Liz and Nick had come the same way with their visitors. Liz said Connie was on a mission so she thought Ben was up ahead of them. They had a quick play before we set off back along the towpath and into the field by the mooring basin so Ben could have a wash in the canal as he was filthy dirty.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wash Day On NB Bendigedig

Ben keeping watch

Yesterday was a busy one as I decided to wash and dry all the curtains on the boat. While each load was washing and drying I cleaned the brass poles and took off the curtains rings for a wash too. As each load dried they were ironed and put back up so by bedtime all the curtains were back on the windows. It must be spring cleaning even though it was a misty cold day.

Eric was busy too as in the extreme cold weather while we were in Ellesmere, the wooden panels had partly come away from the metal back doors. They needed resticking with no nails and clamped until it dried. Nick kindly lent us the clamps. It was a bit drafty as we couldn't shut the back doors until the clamps came off.

Today Eric's been in the engine hole topping up the batteries and later he gave the engine a run for an hour. It started first time but was a bit spluttery but soon got going. We must remember to run it in a few weeks rather than leave it a month. It's all serviced ready for cruising in April and not being used to generate electricity because we have shore power.

Ben and I went out walking towards Sun Trevor in mud, mud and more sticky mud. Contractors have just begun making a grit path from Llangollen Wharf to the first bridge so when it's furnished it'll be a gritty walk rather than a muddy one. Let's hope they continue all the way to Trevor as several sections are extremely wet and muddy. The mist is down so you can't see the hills today. Lots of sheep in the fields running alongside the canal but no new lambs yet.

Half term has begun, Thomas the Tank Engine is tooting in Llangollen Station and there are children everywhere. The walkers, dogs and bikes are passing the boat giving Ben something to bark at. The trip boat across the Poncysyllte Aqueduct is running this week and a few hireboats have passed by. The town is busy too and the fudge and icecream shop is open again.....rum and raisin icecream is calling me... but it's too cold today.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Walk Around Llangollen

Paddling down the River Dee

Today I decided I'd remember to take the camera on my walk too. Ben and I set off from the boat to walk along the towpath towards Berwyn and the Horseshoe Falls. The day was misty but at least it wasn't raining. We walked along the Pentrefelyn Embankment where all the work has been done to reline the canal alongside the River Dee. A canoeist was paddling the white water while the others waited their turn.

Berwyn Station and the River Dee

We walked along the road which leads to the Chain Bridge Hotel and crossed over the second footbridge which leads to steps up to the road and then over King's Bridge which crosses the Llangollen canal and the River Dee. Berwyn Station overlooks the river but there weren't any trains about today, although the line has been restored. The Chain Bridge (1929) was built to replace one washed away by floods, but it is now unsafe and closed.

Chain Bridge and the River Dee

King's Bridge (1902-06) and the Chain Bridge Hotel

The road passes under the railway line and then meets the A5 and we walked a short distance towards Llangollen then across the road to follow a footpath sign and up the hill to turn onto a muddy track through a plantation with lovely views overlooking Llangollen. We continued on our walk past some noisy dogs climbing up to the viewpoint but there were no views of Dinas Bran today as it was covered by mist. We followed a track to meet a road then another track and then it was downhill, Ben remembered which way to go.
Overlooking the Horseshoe Falls

Misty Llangollen from the viewpoint

Going down and Ben waiting for me!

Plas Geraint (3 storey house) and Riverside Park

Finally we went past a thatched cottage and followed the footpath signs down through a muddy wood to another lane leading past Plas Geraint down to cross the A5 to Riverside Park. Then it was a short distance alongside the river, through the town and back to the boat and it had taken us two hours. Ben and I enjoyed our walk around Llangollen and there was even a cup of coffee waiting for me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Splashing Time (Not In The Canal)

What's been happening today? First thing this morning Connie managed to open up her wound again so it's back to the vets again tomorrow, until then she's all bandaged up. Meanwhile Ben and I have been up the field playing ball while Eric waited for the coal delivery to the wharf. The boaters all had a chat while they waited with their trolleys to ferry the bags of coal along the wharf to the boats as the coal man delivers to the top of the steps by the B &B called 'Ty Cwmlas'.

Liz and I have been swimming at Plas Madoc Leisure Centre this afternoon, which was a nice change although my legs felt like lead as I got out of the pool. I don't do any fancy strokes but I managed to swim across the widest point in a sort of doggy paddle. I've never been a strong swimmer but I get there in the end. It's a lovely pool and today there were quite a few mums and dads with their babies and small children but there was still plenty of room to swim. I enjoyed my swim and the wave machine was good fun too. Back on the boat tea is cooking and I feeling hungry and rather tired.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day Good News


We didn't bother much with Valentine's Day, after over forty years together I know he loves me and I love him. I was however delighted to read that Les of NB Valerie proposed to his American lady Jacqueline on Valentine's Day and better still she accepted. What did I do on Valentine's Day? Well after getting up and dressed Eric and I went for very muddy walk with Ben the dog. I then decided to go and do a bit of shopping in Wrexham and get a haircut while I was there. It's very short this time but it'll soon grow. The lady in Ceri's in Ellesmere aways cuts it how I like it, so I'll have a cut there before we leave for our continuous cruising. We like to moor up for the winter and plan our next adeventures, but come March 31st our itchy feet take over.

Update on Connie: Stitches removed, bandages off but no long walks yet!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunny Saturday Followed By Rainy Sunday

Saturday was a lovely day here in Llangollen. Lots of people out enjoying the mild weather so Ben and I went for a walk up the field to play ball. At least there we wouldn't meet any cyclists! A few dogs and owners came walking through the field but Ben had only one thing in mind... his ball. A large black labrador came through but it's owner said he always spoils for a fight so he had to keep him on a lead. Ben had his usual dip in the canal before going back to the boat. Ben stayed on the boat while Eric and I then went into Llangollen to get some fruit, bread and milk. Eric got a few bags of logs from Watkins & Williams only £2.50 a bag and they burn well.

Later in the day Liz and I took the dogs for a short walk partway up Dinas Bran, then following a footpath ending in a field of sheep and back down the road to the canal. The sun has brought the walkers up there too. As usual I needed stops to get my breath and look at the scenery! Connie wasn't happy on the final stretch, but it turned out to be salty grit between her pads rather than her bandaged leg.

Sunday has just been wet all day, some heavy showers interspersed with lighter showers. Eric and I donned the wet gear to take Ben to play ball in the field. Nobody about today and lots of huge puddles on the towpath which Eric was enjoying like a kid in his wellies. Ben enjoyed his run although he was very wet by the time we got back to the boat from the rain and his dips in the canal.

Later in the day he had another outing with Liz and Connie but he wasn't on his best behaviour and he nipped Connie's ear. She's OK but they gave each other a wide berth for the rest of the walk. Usually they play fight and Ben's fine perhaps he was just having a bad day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Walk Around Valley Crucis Abbey

Valle Crucis Abbey and 'Velvet Hill'

Today I woke up and decided I wanted to go for a long walk on the route which overlooks Valle Crucis Abbey, one of the points on the Llangollen History Trail. After breakfast I showered and stood wrapped in a big towel talking to Eric by the galley window. I looked outside as Liz whistled! She said she wanted to go on a long walk but Connie had to stay on the boat to rest her leg, so she came walking with me and Ben the dog.

We walked along the towpath towards Horseshoe Falls leaving the towpath at the bridge near the Motor Museum. Then it was along the road to the right and along a farm track which is now sign posted as Abbey Farm Tea Rooms. The map shows a footpath but the sign is no longer there. The sign advertised 'camping pods' for hire and we saw them as we passed Valle Crucis Abbey near the old abbey fishing pond. No sheep in the field we had to cross and soon we were walking up the hill which overlooks the ruined abbey. We didn't stop at the picnic site but continued on our walk enjoying the scenery while Ben enjoyed all the smells and freedom of being off his lead. Behind the abbey is Coed Hyrddyn or 'Velvet Hill' so called because of the soft texture of the sheep cropped hill.

We walked back down a track to the road and followed the sign posted road to Llangollen with views of Dinas Bran ahead of us. We ended up in the field near the mooring basin which is used as an overflow car park in Summer when the Eisteddfod is on. Ben had a dip in the shallow canal which is just as well as he was muddy but came out clean. Back to the boats to see Connie waiting for Liz to come back. I'm feeling tired but it was nice to be out and about in the countryside with dry feet.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Boots....Dry Feet!

What have I been up since Monday..... not a lot really. Of course I've done the usual washing, food shopping, cooking and cleaning as well as reading books and blogs. Liz and I've been out walking the dogs with Connie's leg well wrapped up to protect and keep it dry. I've been having trouble keeping my feet dry as my walking boots now leak so it was off to Wrexham to get some more boots. I ended up getting some 'Hoggs' waterproof hiking boots from Countrywide Farmers as the price was good at £39.99 as they currently have 10% off. Good news.... out walking today and I have dry feet! I don't see the point of having boots that aren't waterproof, we get a lot of rain in Wales.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A Travelling Day

Look at all that water (and mud)

On Monday morning I was up bright and early to take Ben out for a good long walk in readiness for our travel back to the boat at Llangollen. It was pouring with rain and extremely wet and muddy underfoot but we followed a track in Alt-yr-yn Local Nature Reserve which ran past sound lovely interconnecting ponds, climbed up and then down tracks to finally come back down to the canal for a return walk to the bottom of Barrack Hill. Ben as usual had several paddles and loved the water. His final dip was in deeper water (chasing a stick) to get rid of all the mud before we walked back up the hill to Clare's house. A towel was waiting to complete the cleaning process and soon he was dried off ready for his taxi ride to Newport Station, booked in advance with the dog loving taxi driver.

It was ging to be one of those days, our train was not going onto the Gobowen, Chirk, Ruabon and Wrexham line due to floods and engineering problems so a coach was waiting at Shrewsbury. The driver was having his break and making us all wait to load the cases. A coach was a new experience for Ben but he soon settled happily on the floor and we finally arrived at Ruabon Station to catch the final bus to Llangollen.

Back at Llangollen, Liz and Nick had rescued the escaping satellite dish when the mag mount couldn't cope with the gusts of wind. They also had to loosen our ropes because the levels had gone down and up when first of all the feeder became blocked with debris , and when cleared the fallen tree caused the water to back up and rise almost to the top of the wharf. Nick had to free NB Shush too as she was listing due to the raised water levels.

Any way all is well and NB Bendy was soon warmed up and the kettle was boiling. Nice to go away but so nice to be back HOME! Ben was soon asleep on the settee..... it's been a very busy day.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Just Some Thoughts From Rainy Newport

I am sat here thinking about NB Bendigedig moored at Llangollen tucked in between NB Henry and NB Spadger and wondering if the horrendous weather has eased off. Liz and Nick (NB Henry) have been keeping a watchful eye and telling us of trees down further along the canal, but NB Bendy is safe. They even sent me a picture showing the Horseshoe Falls on the River Dee and it had vanished with the torrent of water flowing down the Dee. The message said 'Who pinched the Horseshoe Falls?'

Here in Newport, staying at my daughter Clare's house on top of a hill, it has been very windy but there are no trees to fall near the house. Newport was brought to a standstill on Friday by large sections of roofing blown off the new university building and littering the nearby roads. I was out walking with Ben the dog in the nearby woods so a few branches brought down by the gales didn't really bother us, just something else to sniff and wee on thought Ben the dog.

I've rediscovered some places vaguely familiar from my childhood in Newport, walking through Allt-yr-yn Nature Reserve which runs alongside the Canal. We used to swim in the open air lido which must be there somewhere in the woods but I haven't found it yet. There's lots of walks so we'll be exploring again later today. As children many happy times were spent near the 'Mon and Brec' Canal at Fourteen Locks as it was often the place we went for bike rides. Little did I know that my future husband spent many happy hours jumping across lock chambers, walking across the pair of sleeper like planks which used to bridge the lock chambers and lying alongside the canal ticking trout with his dad. It strange that we never met!

We've been looking at the canal history on the Fourteen Locks website and one of the photos was a familiar scene to Eric who remembered seeing the wreck on an old boat in the canal. It's been really interesting watching the video clips on the site although they were slow to load even on a 3G connection which meant the speech loaded a sentence at a time. Nevertheless the photographs were worth the wait. So we've been reminiscing as 'old folk' do, perhaps it was our childhood attraction to canals that steered us towards a life afloat.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Restoration Of The Fourteen Locks

No 2 Lock looking towards No 1 and the M4 Underpass

Interesting shelving on lock sides....their use unknown?

The pound below Pensarn Cottage

Some restored locks

A refilled pound

Today Eric, Ben and I walked along the canal from Barrack Hill and went under the M4 Underpass where the canal is in a culvert to walk the Fourteen Locks. If you're interested in the ongoing restoration then there is a link on the home page to their restoration blog.

The first locks we came across are awaiting restoration, and the pound below Pensarn Cottage is as yet unrestored. A bit further up clearing work was ongoing but as we walked further up to our delight several locks have been restored with beautiful black and white painted lock gates. Such a magnificent change after just four years with pounds and side ponds in water. At present we can only dream of canal boats on this section.......perhaps one day. As always money is a problem, any donations to help the restoration would be gratefully received by the registered charity.

Ben enjoyed his walk but needed a quick dip in the pound outside the canal centre before he was fit to get on a bus as we didn't fancy walking back. The wind was so strong he was very soon blow dried.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Walking The Mon and Brecon Canal

Gwasted Bridge No 2 and Lock
On Thursday I took Ben for a walk along the section of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal which is currently unnavigable although some restoration work is going on. They have restored a lock at Gwasted Bridge No 2 where the canal runs alongside the M4, and a lot of clearing of the channel has been done. Lots of mud around although this section of the canal is regularly used by walkers, dog walkers and cyclists between Malpas Road and Western Avenue. I'd planned to cut through to Tredegar Park but found my way barred by spiked iron gates at Golden Mile View- access was open when we lived in a flat there four years ago when our boat was being built. So a change of route meant a walk around the perimeter of the Gaer Fort or Gollars as we used to call it overlooking the River Ebbw- more info on the link. I finally arrived at my dad's house with a very dirty dog..........who needed a wash!

Just a little bit of history....two canals run north and west from Newport and the towpaths are largely intact from Crosskeys in the west past Fourteen Locks and alongside the M4 to Barrack Hill on the edge of Newport and then north to the outskirts of Cwmbran. The section of the canal is usually called the Crumlin Arm and crosses under the M4 motorway to climb up the famous Fourteen Locks to Rogerstone oy Tydu (in Welsh). In 1799 the Fourteen Locks were built to raise the water 50m in 740 m, the steepest rise in the UK. The system involves embanked side ponds, pounds, sluices and weirs to regulate the water levels. As there are no shared gates it's a flight of locks not a staircase. Lots of information available on this website. The canal running north is currently being restored to meet up the navigatable Mon and Brecon from near Pontypool to Brecon, one of our favourite canals when we had a small cruiser when our children were small too.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Buses, Trains, Lifts & Taxis

Ben the dog has had a very strange day. It began quite normally with a walk up to the field by the mooring basin to play ball. But after that it was a bus from Llangollen to Ruabon to catch the train to Newport. He got on the bus quite happily and the bus driver didn't even charge us the 50p fare.

Arriving at the train station we waited for the train listening to the absurd announcements in Welsh and English telling us no smoking and not to leave luggage unattended as it would be removed by station staff- but it's an unmanned station so there aren't any staff. The train arrived and Ben got on and we found seats with a table which he could lie underneath. Ben behaved himself all the way to Newport which was two and a quarter hours. He ventured out to meet any passengers who wanted to make a fuss of him though.

At Newport Station he had a new experience as we used the lifts because there are so many flights of stairs since the modernisation of the station. Finally we got a taxi to our daughter Clare's house, when we found one who agreed to take a dog. He gave us his business card so we could ring him for our taxi journey back to the station later in the week. So Ben the dog now has Clare to play ball with him! A very different day from yesterday when we were enjoying the countryside.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

No Long Walks For Connie

Connie's not a happy dog at the moment - she just couldn't settle last night with this 'lampshade' on. Liz had to take it off her to get a bit of sleep. Poor Connie!

Walking Up To Castell Dinas Bran

Llangollen from Castell Dinas Bran

On the way up!

Ben at Castell Dinas Bran

A view from Castell Dinas Bran

This morning the sun shining and I decided to go for a walk and ended up climbing to the top of Castell Dinas Bran. I just felt like it! The sun was shining and it wasn't cold so it was a perfect day to get up on the hills and Castell Dinas Bran is on the sunny side of Llangollen. I left Eric washing the exterior of the boat and clearing the accumulated rubbish on the front deck.Today our daughter Clare is celebrating her birthday, so I rang her from the top of Dinas Bran to wish her................