Friday, April 29, 2011

Moored At Hurleston Junction For The Royal Wedding

Ben walking through the undergrowth

A view from Hurleston Reservoir of NB Bendigedig and NB Shush
We're  moored at Hurleston Junction where we can get a good satellite TV signal as I wanted to see 'The Wedding'. Ben's walk around Hurleston Reservoir was timed so I'd be back to see the bride and groom arrive at Westminster Abbey, watch the service, their journey to Buckingham Palace and that's it for today. No doubt we'll see more over the next few days. We're going south tomorrow with a quick stop at Nantwich for fresh fruit and vegetable before we hit the wilds of Shropshire.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Moving on- Wrenbury To Hurleston Junction

Taking a right turn May 2010

We woke up this morning to a boat with it's roof covered in frost, no wonder I felt cold! A flick of the switch and the diesel  central heating burst into life, warmed up the boat and gave us some hot water. for a couple of showers. After breakfast we set off- an early start for us it was only 9.30am, and upset a local farmer by raising the Wrenbury Lift Bridge and allowing another boat through after us before I lowered it again. He shouted at me to lower the bridge as he had things to do! Aren't I lucky I don't have to clock watch!

One more lift bridge and we were away to tackle the locks, three at Baddiley, two at Swanley and four at Hurleston after a water stop. I found the locks hard going- I need a new long handled aluminium windless which makes life easier. We met up with NB Shush at the waterpoint and had a catch up chat before we  both moored below Hurleston on the Shropshire Union Canal aka the Shroppie, one of our favourite canals. We took a sharp right turn just like we did in May last year, so apologies for using the same photo.  Eric had to put down some long fenders because of that Shroppie shelf to stop the bang everytime a boat comes past. Staying put tomorrow I want to watch the Royal Wedding after I've taken Ben for a walk around Hurleston Reservoir of course.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Moving On To Wrenbury

Today we left the mooring below Grindley Brook and headed towards Wrenbury, Ben and I walked while Eric steered the boat. Lots of boats on the move helped with the locks as we could leave the bottom gates open for the approaching boat. A lovely day for boating with the sun shining and when we moored up out came the rotary line to dry the washing which had been in the washing machine as we cruised.

We had planned to get some filters for our Beta engine at the chandlers at Wrenbury as they sell Beta spares but as usual the best plans go was shut until Friday. So we popped in the Corn Mill for a pint and a half  then went to Wrenbury Village Store for some bread and milk before going back to the boat.

We enjoyed a lazy afternoon although I did make a Victoria sponge which we had to taste of course. After tea Eric washed the neglected side of the boat as we rarely seem to stop with the right side next to the towpath. It's clean for now but it doesn't stay clean long!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Going Down....... Grindley Brook

Going down Grindley Brook
We spent part of Easter Monday cruising from Whixall to moor above Grindley Brook locks. The number of boats on the move has lessened but we were hit once again by a boat deciding to reverse back to around at Prees  Junction before we left Whixall Moss. Eric said more painting as he scraped the red and cream  tunnel bands!

Ben and I had a lovely walk doing those lift bridges on the way. I found them hard going after my winter rest. The lift bridge at Whitchurch wasn't as difficult as usual as it needed far fewer rotations to raise and lower it- a local told me it'd been repaired. We stopped above the locks overnight and went down Tuesday afternoon, of course we were the fourth boat and the lockie operates a three down, three up system so we had to wait. I am out of practise locking so I was shattered when we got to the bottom. A lunch stop turned into  let's stay here until tomorrow.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Moored At Whixall Moss

Moored near Whixall Moss
It's Easter! Happy Easter everyone. We're sitting on a mooring next to Whixall Moss, the canal is four boats wide here so the boats are whizzing past so hopefully we would be safe from being hit! I  blogged too soon it's 9am and we've just been hit by a 'yellow peril' from Viking Afloat at Whitchurch! Eric was woken up by the bang. Once the evening comes it's been peaceful here but during the day it's manic.

Yesterday Ben and I went walking on a trail in Whixall Moss, part of Fenn's,Whixall & Bettisfield Mosses which is a National Nature Reserve. The Reserve straddles the English/Welsh border near Whitchurch.  At the canal side there are leaflet boxes with information and walking routes  trailing across the Mosses and we walked the purple trail a 2.25 mile circular route including a walk along the route of the old narrow-gauge railway and part of the Llangollen Canal. The trails are well marked with numbered posts and sculpture plaques but you need to keep to the routes as  'the Mosses are riddled with deep, flooded and partly vegetated ditches' according to the leaflet.

Eric has been busy with the never ending list of boaty jobs starting with scraping the non-slip sand paper covering off the front deck as the rust had got underneath it. Now it's primed and painted awaiting a second coat today. The loss of the non-slip is no problem as it's covered by rubber mats anyway. Next job will be painting the boat roof cream, to hopefully keep the boat cooler inside, although it'll be harder to keep clean as it's a non-slip finish too.

We're staying put today with the fenders down! Hopefully we won't get hit again. We enjoy the peace and quiet of the canals but no hope on  Bank Holidays. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Moving On, Ellesmere To Whixall Moss

The end of the Ellesmere Arm

What have we been doing in the last few days , well the new four 135 batteries are now fitted and a new starter battery.....excellent service by Maestermyn Marine.......and the good news is that in the morning the voltmeter is on green rather than red! Ben has had his booster to keep his vaccinations up to date at Blakemere Vets so he's all sorted until next April. The freezer is now restocked and working after not using it for the last few weeks due to nackered batteries. The cupboards and fridge are full and I've got some new books from the charity shop it's time to move on.

NB De Nada

We spent a couple of days opposite the BW Services, it's wide there so we escaped getting hit by hireboats. It's unbelievable busy with the glorious weather for the Easter weekend. The dust laden towpath has covered the boat with grey but it'll all wash off. Eric then filled and emptied things at the BW services while I walked the dog in the woods before we found a space on the Ellesmere Arm to go and get the shopping. We were moored briefly next to NB De Nada and the lady on board told me she reads the blog so 'Hello' and I hope you like the picture of your boat.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Finally Leaving Llangollen

Eric had the all clear at the eye clinic so we're finally leaving Llangollen after our 48 hour stay on the wharf. £6 a night including electric so I caught up with the washing and we didn't have to worry about the batteries when watching TV.

Walking the narrows with Ben was fun- I couldn't get a phone signal at first so I had to walk back and tell him it was OK to go then rush back to warn boats there were boats coming towards them in the narrow section. Nearly all the boat traffic was going to Llangollen.

Finally over the Ponvysyllte Aqueduct- after waiting for two hireboats to cross. I actually went to the shop on the Trevor housing estate to get bread and they still hadn't crossed- they'd stopped in the middle fora photo session.We stopped the night near Chirk Marina and the railway line but the trains don't run between 11pm and 8am so it didn't keep us awake.

In the morning we set off again with few boats heading towards Ellesmere, most of them were off to the end.....Llangollen (actually the beginning). We were in luck at Chirk Tunnel as we followed a boat through and across Chirk Aqueduct into England. Bye bye Wales until October. At Poacher's Pocket Ben and I got off for our morning walk, just two locks to do at New Marton before we moored up in the sunshine.

Crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

I nearly forgot to mention we passed NB Beefur having a barbecue with the crew of NB Matilda Rose. Just time for a quick hello in passing. Tomorrow it's new batteries for NB Bendigedig and we really do need them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad (84 Years Young)

My dad, daughter Sally and sister in law Eleanor

On Saturday I  returned to the boat after a few days in sunny Newport, a change from rainy Newport. It was a busy few days, first of all I met some friends for lunch and had a good catch up chat as we hadn't seen each other for a while. Next a trip to the dentist for a repair job until my next checkup after which some of my old fillings will have crowns fitted. Finally down to stay at my dad's house. I must have been really tired because I slept from 10 pm to 9 am the next day.......the best sleep I've had for ages...... I usually hear the clock strike each hour!

My dad had loads of cards  and we all went out for a meal in the evening at 'The Blackbirds' at Pentre Lane, Llantarnum  after the local Harvester couldn't cater for 13 sitting together. I would highly recommend  it too as the food was beautiful, excellent service and nice next year's birthday meal has it's venue planned. Gwenllian is my dad's great granddaughter so she came too and was really good since it was way past her bedtime before we all headed home. She had an early Easter rabbit and demolished his ears instead of having a pudding!

The journey back  was two and a quarter hours via Arriva trains,  but there was no coffee or sandwiches as there was no trolley even though the train was going from Cardiff to Holyhead. I was glad to get back on the boat for that cuppa.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cruising To Chaotic Llangollen

Passing places at Sun Trevor

We left our mooring above New Marton Locks, Ben and I walking and Eric steering the boat. At first  it was quiet with just a few boats coming towards us but as we reached Chirk Aqueduct the fun began. A queue of boats was waiting to cross with seven boats coming towards us before we could even move a boat length. We then waited at the entrance to the tunnel as four more boats came through before we could go through.  As Froncysyllte lift bridge was raised already I offered to shut it after us so the two hire boats could carry on with their journey. We then stopped to fill up with water before queuing once again to cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. NB Bendigedig crossed it with some walkers  who didn't like heights walking alongside the boat so they couldn't see the drop on the left hand side. Turn left and the final stretch to Llangollen...... it was manic, the five boats coming towards us all got stuck in a very shallow section. At Sun Trevor we had fun with the passing places. Still more boats were leaving Llangollen surely it wouldn't be full?

My view tonight!

We decided to stop near the Lift Bridge (Bridge 44- which is always raised) for a couple of nights before going on to the mooring basin for our 48 hour paid stay. I am going to Newport for my dad's 84th birthday and Eric has a hospital appointment in Wrexham so we needed to stay a little longer. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cruising - Frankton To New Marton

Harry from New Marton with Max the Rocky Eagle Owl

It feels cold today after the lovely sunny weather we've had the last few days. I set off walking with Ben to Maestermyn alongside the boat, although Ben wasn't sure he wanted to leave the security of the boat and had to be coaxed to come with me. We stopped at the boatyard to order batteries as ours are definately on their last legs. We decided to have ordinary wet lead acid batteries but have bigger ones as 135's have the same footprint as 110's so will fit the battery box.

Back on the boat for a cuppa and then another short walk from Jack Mytton's to the locks at New Marton. As usual it was blowing a gale and we finally moored up and made use of the wind to dry the washing on the rotary line.

Most people  take their dog for a walk but Harry from New Marton takes his Rocky Eagle Owl called Max for a walk sitting on his arm. Jen and Jimm from NB Dire Straits stopped to admire him. Apparently he's just one of his collection of birds of prey.

We also saw out first ducklings but too far away to get a decent picture. talking of firsts yesterday we had our first visiting wasp and he was huge! Eric caught him in a glass and put him back outside.

As I write this the rain is lashing down......April showers again.

NB Bendigedig approaching New Marton moorings

Watery Places - Ellesmere

Blakemere next to the Llangollen Canal
The junction with the Ellesmere Arm
The Mere at Ellesmere

On Sunday Eric returned from his travels to Newport and we needed to use the services at Ellesmere so first of all we had to head through Ellesmere Tunnel and past Blakemere to the turning circle.There are seven meres (lakes) arround Ellesmere formed in hollows created by glaciers and Colemere is the biggest but the camera battery died so I didn't get a photograph. The Mere is next to the town and a favourite spot for visitors with its promenade it feels like walking along the sea front. There's also a woodland path which the dogs love leading to the footpath to Welshampton.The weather has been amazing so we had decided on an evening cruise. The water taps are unbelievably slow at the BW services so we did the other jobs, made a cup of tea and chatted to the boaters as they cruised by. Moored opposite the waterpoint was the lovely new hire boat from Anglowelsh at Trevor with two showers according to the hirers but they were more concerned that the boat was too long to control, I'm sure they'll get the hang of it in the end.Finally full up and ready to go we cruised as far as Frankton Junction and had a quiet night. No boater's arriving late at night to disturb the peace!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Happy birthday Gwenllian

Eric has gone visiting as it's Gwenllian's 3rd birthday and I am here in Ellesmere with Ben the dog. My trip to Newport is a week later as it's my dad's 84th birthday. Not that I am home alone as NB Henry is moored behind and Nick has gone visiting leaving Liz and Connie. So we've spent a few days walking the dogs and enjoying the sunshine. We even did a 8 mile walk starting from Ellesmere 'The Mere' following footpaths across lovely green fields to Welshampton and back along the canal near Lyneal Wharf with a picnic stop watched by nosey cows on the other side of the fence. Needless to say there was a picnic table a few hundred yards away, but we didn't know it was there. Refreshed we had a lovely walk around Colemere before walking back along the canal to the boats. Inside the boat it was like an oven but it soon cooled down with windows, doors and the side hatch open. I couldn't shut the back doors properly until it cooled down as when the metal expands it's a tight fit. Over the last few days meals have been a shared affair, and tonight I'm eating out on NB Henry while Ben looks after NB Bendigedig.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Moored At Ellesmere, Shropshire

Views from the boat December 2010

Last time we were here we were stuck in ice so it's nice to be back when it's considerably warmer. The photograph shows the hoar frost on the sculpture near the boat in December 2010. Liz and I have been busy walking the dogs and today we walked to Colemere and then around the huge lake or mere. Ben took every opportunity to get his feet wet while Connie was searching out anything she could pounce on or chase. The wood had loads of wood anemones and you could hear the birds singing. We must have walked over six miles but the weather was pleasant and we were too busy chatting to notice the distance.

It's busy here today, with lots of hire boats heading back to base at Wrenbury, in a rush as usual and passing moored boats far too quickly. We're now moored on the 14 day moorings after a stop nearer to Tesco's to fill the food cupboard and the fridge. We've eaten the food in the freezer and not filled it up yet as we need new batteries as soon as possible and the freezer makes a heavy demand on tired batteries.

Our Kerstan satellite dish bit the dust in a gust of wind, when it blew off and the dish came apart from its rivets and all we had left was the frame and the LNB on it's arm. We didn't find the dish as it's black and aluminium there was no chance of finding it in the canal. I suppose to survive four years it did well, it was getting rather tatty! Luckily we were able to borrow a dish until we can replace it, so we can still watch TV.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Frankton Junction To Ellesmere......April Showers!

Last night we had a meal on NB Henry, Liz made a lovely fish pie and I did the pudding- golden syrup sponge and custard followed by some wine and a few beers and lots of chat. This morning I had some Happy Mother's day phonecalls so we didn't set off until after eleven thirty. We didn't have far to go and we were hoping the rain had finished..... no we didn't have hangovers! NB Henry set off first with Eric following on NB Bendigedig matching his speed to our walking pace. Liz and I walked with Ben and Connie but we got caught in the April showers on the way to Ellesmere, so we got rather wet! I should have listened to Eric and worn my waterproof trousers.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Poacher's Pocket To Frankton Junction

Ben at New Marton Top Lock

NB Henry

NB Bendigedig
Today Liz and I walked the dogs as far as New Marton Locks, Ben jumped back on at the Top Lock as a very loud bird scarer was making loud bangs. So it was down to one dog walking to the next lock as Ben just didn't want to get off again. NB Henry went off first fom Poacher's Pocket and NB Bendigedig followed on, changing places along the way. Soon the first two locks were done and we were heading onwards to moor at Frankton Junction. The sun is shining, the birds are singing their hearts out, it's so nice to be on the move again.

Friday, April 01, 2011

On The Move-Llangollen To Chirk

The daffodils opposite the boat

Castell Dinas Bran

Two lambs looking at Ben

Eric passing NB Django
Dredger in action

Lots of nice new towpaths as far as Bryn Howel

I looked out of the window to see all the daffodils on the bank opposite flowering, it's moving time. We filled up with water after our last long showers, we'll have to more careful with water and have short showers to conserve water. Eric checked the oil and water while I set off to see if any boats were coming from the mooring basin as it's a narrow stretch with one way traffic. A phone call told him he could go and I walked the other narrow sections to keep him informed. The wind was gusty in places and we had a few delays due to dredging but we finally got to Anglowelsh for fuel before going over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Boy it was windy but we made it. A few hours later, through two tunnels and across the Chirk Aqueduct we were moored up at Poacher's Pocket and off for a drink later. Liz and Nick (NB Henry) arrived at Poacher's Pocket a couple of hours later , so we had a few drink with them.