Monday, April 30, 2012

Wild And Windy ......Bye Bye Wrenbury

Approaching Baddiley Lock( which one?)
We woke this morning to windy weather, OK it wasn't raining but it's not easy moving a narrowboat in the wind. First of all I had to go and open the electric lift bridge and cause havoc by holding up the traffic......only three cars today. Ben and I then walked on to open the next lift bridge but it was open so we went through. A few bridges on we got back on the boat as I knew there was a bog before the Baddiley Locks. Eric struggled to get into the side with the wind blowing the boat across the cut and it wasn't easy getting into the top lock. We continued our walk working through the next two locks and able to leave the bottom gates open for the next boat coming up. After Swanley Locks we moored up as Eric wanted to restick the wooden panel on one of the back doors and now it's got screws as well to keep it well and  joined to the metal door. So jobs done, time to cook the tea.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Lunch At The Cotton Arms

Despite horrendous downpours giving huge puddles on the towpath Eric and I braved it with Ben to go and get a Sunday paper and some bread and milk. Passing the 'Cotton Arms' we asked about Sunday Lunch and booked a table for two. Not that we needed to book as there was room when we got there later on. First of all Ben and I needed a bit longer walk in the lovely rain! When we got so far Ben just looked at me as if to say let's go back now........he was dripping wet but soon dried off with a big towel.

At the pub we chose roast beef and it was delicious with plenty of meat and loads of fresh veg (not mashed beyond recognition) with roasted potatoes and parsnips. Excellent price too at £7.95 each.......we'll be back! We've had their lunch club menu which they do on a Wednesday and Saturday and that was great too. While we ate our wet gear dried off by a roaring fire. Back to the boat for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ten Locks To Wrenbury

Going down the Grindley Brook staircase locks

Ben tied up to keep the lock keeper happy

Today we filled up with water, emptied cassettes and got rid of the rubbish before working through Grindley Brook Locks. I rang my dad and he thought Grindley Brook was a strange place name, so I sent him a picture postcard of the locks. The first three are a staircase and the lock keeper operates a three boats up three down policy but we were in luck we didn't have to wait at all. He told Eric he liked the cill because he kept the boat back in the lock, but he is always aware of the cill so wasn't that close. I had to tie Ben up to keep the lock keeper happy but once we were down the staircase, Ben didn't need tying up.

The boats were congregating in the pound below the staircase waiting their turn. Although they should be able to see us coming down the boaters working the next lock down shut the gates on us even though we left ours open for them. In the short time it took us to get there the lock had partly emptied so I had to refill it. The next one down had also emptied itself through leaky gates. It's just as well there's not a water shortage on the Llangollen Canal as the water comes from the River Dee at Horseshoe Falls and takes it all the way to the Hurleston where it keeps the reservoir full and feeds the Shropshire Union Canal.

Ben and I had our morning walk, working through locks on the way, mosty full and ready for us. Eric had to wait while I refilled Willey Moor Lock as we now had a boat in front of us. The pub had just opened but we didn't stop, feeling cold in the wind we didn't need a cold drink. We continued on our way as we wanted to moor up in Wrenbury and stay put tomorrow because the weather forecast is not good. Yes we found a space for NB Bendigedig and after ten locks and lots of walking I'm suitably cream crackered........I should sleep tonight!

Waiting at Willey Moor Lock

Whitchurch To Grindley Brook

Just a short cruise yesterday to a mooring above Grindley Brook. Ben and I walked working two lift bridges on the way,  definately a mud and puddles morning. At Viking Afloat where we stopped to get some Excel, the hire boats were breasted up so they brought the coal across the boats to us. Just one more lift bridge by the Whitchurch Arm and we continued to Grindley Brook Visitor Moorings where there was plenty of room to moor.

In the afternoon we walked down to the garage near the locks to get some engine oil as they sell Morris Oils, so Eric can do a service when it's due. We were lucky as we missed the rain but it emptied down when we got back to the boat.

At the locks the lock keeper was bored with so few boats going through, let's hope it's no queues tomorrow either because we've got quite a few to do to get to Wrenbury.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Short Cruise & No Rain!

That tree again!

This morning we woke to rain and were unsure whether to move or not as there was no wind. We decided to go at 11am when it stopped......but for how long? Ben and I walked from Prees Junction to the outskirts of Whitchurch working the two lift bridges on the way, about four miles in all and it didn't rain at all. It waited until we were moored up by our favourite tree and then lashed down for the rest of the afternoon. The hireboats are out in force stuck to deadlines of where they need to be when. We are so lucky to have time to do as we please.

Eric's been down the engine hole as the Travelpower generator  V belt was shredding(again), so it's replaced let's hope this one lasts longer. He wonders whether he's been keeping it too tight so this time it's looser. Anybody have the same problem with their Beta 43 engine? The other belts are fine.

It's still raining cats and dogs but we're fine, nice and cosy on NB Bendigedig.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wild, Wet And Windy At Prees Junction

It's wild and windy here at Prees Junction, the rain is pouring down, the boat is rocking on a canal with wind blown waves! We're just staying put although a few hardy boaters' are braving the weather. Ben and I have been out walking, me in my wet gear and Ben in his fur coat. We walked down the bottom of the Prees Branch and back, past cowslips galore and  a swan on her nest on the other side of the canal, her mate just watching us go by.

Back on the boat for a rub down with a towel for Ben while my dripping gear hangs in the cratch. My book is calling......time for a nice read.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bye Bye Ellesmere

The crane and derelict wharehouse on the Ellesmere Arm

Today we left Ellesmere, the cupboards, freezer and fridge are full and we need to move or should I say we want to move.Before we left we popped to the hardware shop to get some sticks and a new shopping trolley as the wheels on mine had died from overwork! We've enjoyed our stay in Ellesmere, Ben loves the walks and yesterday we walked in the woodland paths near the Mere. So it's day one of our Summer Cruise!

First stop of course was the BW Services for the filling and emptying jobs.Usually it takes an age to fill up the water tank but it was quicker today. Then we were off, the boat is going well with the new propeller and the vibration on the tiller has almost stopped. We've already acquired some scrapes as  some boats coming down the Ellesmere Arm made good contact and what annoyed us more is that they failed to even acknowledge they'd hit us.....we heard the bangs!

Ben and I had a good walk alongside the boat, and jumped back on at a bridge hole. Most of the boat traffic is going towards Llangollen so we met loads of boats, some in awkward places, bridge holes on sharp bends. We moored up after about three hours near Prees Junction.

Before tea I took Ben for a walk on Whixall Moss but due to it being the breeding season for a birds he had to stay on a lead, but he didn't mind as he loves to be out. Eric thought I'd got lost but I always keep to the waymarked tracks and follow the map provided in little boxes at the various entrances to the Mosses. Ben's now asleep......I think he enjoyed his walk.

Happy Birthday Liz

Liz & Nick at Psytyll Rhaedr Waterfall
Happy birthday Liz!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Slow Boat To Ellesmere

Looking down the Ellesmere Arm

Today we decided it was time to get some food in, the fridge and freezer had been emptied so we wouldn't need to be plugged in while the boat was in the dry dock. So it was back to Ellesmere, but it was the longest journey ever following a very slow boat going back to Blackwater Marina. There is a limit on how far you want to travel on just above tickover so Eric's patience was getting a bit thin.

We turned down the Ellesmere Arm to find a space, luck was with us as it's at the top of the Arm which means we can get satellite TV. It's nice to be next to a hard edge as there's plenty of mud on the grassy sections of towpath and the gritty sections leave a grey film on the boat. It emptied down with hail stones as we moored up, even Ben was soaked and happy to have a rub down with a towel. Eric had to change his jeans too.

We filled the fridge and freezer at the very convenient Tesco so we just need some tins, jars, boxes for the cupboard and a mega supply of dog food of course. We not planning to move for a few days  (RELAX!) and then we're back in cruising mode.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Back On Board......Need To Relax!

Nicely painted tunnel scratches yet!

We'd had a hectic week filled with dog walking, shopping, visiting family and being visited as well as meals out. Now we're ready to get back to relax mode. Today Ben was walked by eight in the morning and we were ready to head back to Whixall Marina as NB Bendigedig was back in the water with a new black bottom. We'd also had the propeller changed back to the original size (18x12), tunnels bands repainted and anodes fitted.

It took us three hours to get back with a short stop in Craven Arms for comfort breaks. Ben was a very good boy but his hair gets all over the boot so the car needed a valet before we could take it back as they make a hefty charge if there's any pet hair! It's cheaper to get it hoovered out ourselves.

Back on the boat we filled the fuel tank up (good price at Whixall) and headed up the Prees Arm and moored just after Prees Junction. Ben and I walked and did the two lift bridges so now it's satellite signal found, fire lit and RELAX!

Our daughter Clare will come home from work and find a quiet've got your house back Clare! Thanks for putting up with us, see you soon.

Ben and the boat

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy 85th Birthday Dad

Dad opening presents

Malcolm & Lorraine

Eleanor & Clare

Gwenllian spotted trifle!

Malcolm & Jen

Gwenllian & Lisa

Alison & Eleanor

Dad & Christine

My grandad!
It's been a busy few days catching up with family and friends. We had a lovely Sunday Lunch at the Three Blackbirds in Llantarnum to celebrate my dad's 85th birthday. The oldest (my Dad) and youngest (Gwenllian) members of the family were there and here's some of the photos taken.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What Happened On Thursday

On Thursday morning we were up and ready to go down to the Dry Dock at Whixall to see what was going on as we didn't know when the boat was going in ......either Thursday, Friday or whenever! There's a distinct lack of keeping the customer informed and we found no room for us to put the boat as the two available spaces were filled and a welder working on a boat which was due to be blacked before ours.

Now what do we do? We couldn't stay where we were......moored across the diesel pump mooring and according to the signs the shop/office was shut. A phone call was answered by a machine but luck was on our side as a man appeared and let himself into the office......Eric made a dash to catch him before he left. We arranged a  visitor mooring until Maestermyn get their act together!

At least Enterprise Rent A Car came up trumps and called to confirm the pick up I'd arranged from Whixall Marina. We were concerned because when I arranged it they weren't sure they could do it. But it would be really awkward to get to Shrewsbury, I had visions of Eric cycling to Prees Railway Station to catch a train!

The car had satellight navigation once we'd sorted out how it worked but once we got to the A49 we knew the way. The sat nav wanted us to use the motorways but it's a more pleasant journey and easier to stop for doggy comfort breaks on the A roads.

We arrived at Clare's house, she's  putting up with us until the boat's ready .......glad to have a busy day over.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Coffee And A Chat On NB Bendigedig

Jacq & Les (NB Valerie)

Today I took Ben for a walk in the rain down the Prees Branch, he was over the footbridge before I got to it. The showers stopped as I was walking back to the boat and surprise surprise there was NB Valerie with Jacq and Les on board going to get some fuel at Whixall Marina.

After lunch they moored up next to us and came in for a coffee and a chat. Sorry Les we'd eaten all the cake! It was lovely to meet Jacq and catch up with's been quite a while since we've seen him. We've heard all about the wonderful cakes made by Jacq! All too soon it was time for them to carry on as Les was looking for a good mobile signal.

Bye Bye!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cruising Again To Prees Junction

Yesterday we walked the muddy towpath in the rain to get some shopping so we would be ready for our move today. Ben had a walk in the rain too! Today we were up and ready to go by ten o'clock........we're not into early starts and we didn't have that far to go anyway. It took forever to fill up with water as the taps are slow at BW Ellesmere and at last we were ready to go.

Lots of boats on the move today so we had to wait for a space in the line heading towards Hurleston. Progress was slow for Eric, Ben and I walked for an hour or more and then got back on board to make a sandwich and a drink. We arrived at the long straight to Prees Junction following a boat zig zagging its way along the canal with a child steering. We pulled in just before the Junction on  a short section of Armco and the rain came down, followed by hail stones. We were moored up just in time.

Not far to go now as we're going down to Whixall Marina where Maestermyn Marine Ltd has a dry dock.


Just had to add a photo this morning, the sky is blue and the birds are singing.........all is good!

Our mooring......this morning

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Birthday Gwenllian

Today is Easter Sunday and Gwenllian's 4th birthday is today too. Those four years have certainly flown by as it doesn't seem that long since I caught the train to be there with Lisa for the baby's arrival. I didn't quite make it and arrived an hour after her delivery but it was great to see the new arrival and her mum. She's certainly changed Lisa's life as children do!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Busy Doing Nothing Much!

A motorbike on a boat

The world is passing us by as we sit tucked in by the oak tree near Ellesmere, by the world I mean boats everywhere hurrying by on their Easter trips. Yes we've been hit, it's unavoidable when there's so many novices and so many boats passing by. They're unsure of which side of the canal they should be on and then get too close to the offside and get stuck in the mud. What amazes is me is the other boats who pass them by and could so easily help. The dog walkers are out in their droves but it's a bit quieter here than on the Ellesmere Arm or the Visitor Moorings.

A view of the BW Yard at Ellesmere

Not much going on but we seem to have been busy, Eric had to seal the roof mushrooms as we had drips on the kitchen floor in the heavy rain and I've been dog walking in familiar haunts with Ben the dog. His favourite place is the Nature Reserve with lots of tracks, trees to water and lots of smells to sniff.

The path from the canal to the Nature Reserve
Spring in the Nature Reserve

We've been stocking up the store cupboard with tins and dog food to keep us going for a while until we find another big store near the canal on our travels. Of course we've got the stay in the dry dock so we can't stock up the freezer and fridge yet. We'll make a trip back to Ellesmere to do that after we've left the dry dock. Enterprise should be picking us up at Whixall Marina if all goes to plan, so we'll have a car for a week  which makes a pleasant change. It's my dad's 85th birthday so it's celebration time.

The Mere at Ellesmere

Good Friday came and went without Hot Cross Buns! Sold out in Tesco and I didn't venture into the other shops in Ellesmere as I had a trolley full of shopping already. I suppose it was good for the figure which I am trying to reduce slowly. I have been hitting the charity shops getting some reading matter to keep me going on our travels and giving them books back so there's room on the book shelf above the bed head.

Ben's had his annual visit to the Blakemere Veterinary Centre in Ellesmere for his check up, boosters, worming tablets and flea treatments to keep the dreaded ticks off him. We aren't registered there but they are friendly and  by chance we've seen the same vet the last three years running! Ben is just below his ideal weight so he much be getting enough exercise and not too much food, although he's never been a greedy dog and his food stays in his dish until he wants to eat it.

It's raining at the moment so I'll be donning the wet gear for the morning walk......I suppose I shouldn't complain about the mud as we really do need the rain.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Brrr It's Cold In Ellesmere, Shropshire

Yesterday we left our mooring below New Marton Locks and headed for Ellesmere keen to get there before the forecast snow and high winds. Ben and I enjoyed our walk along the grassy towpath, lots of primroses growing wild too. On the way we popped in to Maestermyn to confirm everything was OK for our boat blacking as we'd not heard from them. So it's all arranged and we're off to Newport while all the work's being done. We did it ourselves last time and I said never again.....the smell of Comastic is yuk!

Ellesmere is packed with moored boats and overnight the snow came but it was washed away by teatime. Ben and I went for a slushy walk in the sleety rain this morning up along the canal towpath and through the Nature Reserve to the Mere. He was filthy by the time we got back. Eric and I popped into town and sampled the Black Lion's lunch menu, we've had better food there in the past. Then we picked up a few bits in Tesco's before returning go a nice warm boat for a lazy afternoon once Eric found a TV signal.

We'd had a rocking and rolling afternoon with the speed the boats are passing moored boats. Hopefully it'll quieten down soon!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Cruising Again- Llangollen to Poachers Pocket And Beyond

Untying the boat at Llangollen Wharf

Yesterday it was time to go, so I set off ahead with Ben the dog past the first narrow section while Eric untied the boat. I tried to ring him to tell him the way was clear but  had no signal. Eventually he realised and rang me and NB Bendigedig was on her way. I walked on with the dog to the sharp bend which starts the second narrows to see if any boats  were coming and we had to wait for just one boat and we didn't meet any more boats until we reached Trevor where the trip boat was crossing so we pulled in to wait our turn.

It's a very different start to our travels this year as the wild garlic which grows near the canal is beginning to flower and the daffodils were starting to die off. Most years we leave as the first daffodils are coming out and the wild garlic is just peeping through the ground.

After the first narrow section

Approaching the second narrow section

Waiting to cross Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

I got back on the boat to cross the aqueduct and took this photo looking down as we crossed the River Dee. There's certainly far less water than usual on its way to Chester. On the other said Ben jumped ship as we got close to the side, did he know we were nearly at the Froncysyllte Lift Bridge? My first lift bridge of the year and a passing gent came and helped me open it, how kind!

Looking down crossing the River Dee

Approaching Fron Lift Bridge
Lots of boats approaching us on their way to Llangollen as we negotiated Whitehouses Tunnel, Chirk Tunnel and the Chirk Aqueduct. Lots of work going on with a new surface on the towpath, I don't know whether that loose gritty stuff is better than mud, personally I prefer a grassy towpath as it's easier on the feet than a hard surface.

We stopped next to Poachers Pocket as there was actually a space and after four hours cruising we were feeling tired, it must be all that fresh air! We didn't sample the beer or the menu this time, but it was very busy anyway as it was Sunday.

In the morning we were up and away by 9.30am after I'd pumped up the tyres on my bike. I cycled to New Marton Locks with Ben running alongside me, at first he wanted to eat my feet but a few shouts of no and he stopped. Queues of boats at New Marton Locks the first boat would be still there if  I haven't realised he had both sets of paddles open. Ben and I walked to the second lock and NB Bendigedig pulled in to moor a bit further along. Some of the hire boats are making waves as they rushed to Llangollen, it's going to busy there this Easter weekend.