Monday, October 29, 2012

A View From The Side Hatch

Castell Dinas Bran from the side hatch
We woke this morning to the early bird boaters' passing us by at eight o'clock. Later in the day the sun was shining and you could see Castell Dinas Bran ( the castle ruins) on the hill top but it's too small in the photo.
Ben and I walked down to Llangollen to see how full the online moorings were and found them totally empty. I rang Eric and let him know there was just one hire boat going towards him in the narrows, after that it was ok for him to come through. The crew of NB Lacewing waited patiently for him to come through.
Soon we were moored up in our favourite spot. Later a few more boats arrived and moored up too. All settled now regardless of what the weather throws at us.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Welcome To Wales

Chirk Aqueduct

Chirk Tunnel
On  Saturday we had a long cruise finally stopping at Sun Trevor, a rather noisy spot but we didn't think there would be any room at the Lift Bridge moorings......but that's the end of the story.

Progress was incredibly slow with leaves fouling the prop making it hard to get across Chirk Aqueduct with the 'Welcome to Wales', you could have walked across faster! Chirk Tunnel was even slower with the flow of water in the tunnel slowing us even more. But we got through eventually. At Whitehouse Tunnel the boat behind us resorted to pulling his boat to help the engine, it was deep drafted too which didn't help.
Near Whitehouse Tunnel we passed NB Blue Diamond with Maggie and Bernie on board and continued slowly on our way. One more lift bridge to do at Froncysyllte then the a slow cruise to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. We waited for the Llangollen Trip boat to cross and then it was our turn. Crossing wasn't too bad as the wind was in front of us, sometimes a side wind pins you to the side of the metal trough which makes crossing even slower.
At Trevor Eric reversed in alongside a boat to fill up with diesel at Anglowesh, loads of their hire boats ready to's going to be busy in Llangollen. The final stretch from Trevor to Llangollen is always slow but we finally made it to Sun Trevor and used the space left by a boat leaving. Richard off NB Cartref came out to help us moor us and say hello.
On Sunday Ben and I went for a walk into Llangollen to get a paper, and see if there was any room at the Lift Bridge moorings. Walking back to Sun Trevor we met Maggie closely followed by Bernie on NB Blue Diamond going to moor near the Lift Bridge . I rang Eric and he started off through the first set of narrows once no other boats were coming through.
So now we're all warm and cosy despite the wind and the rain outside and getting closer to our winter mooring spot.

Friday, October 26, 2012

On The Way To Llangollen

The last lock til next year! (New Marton Top Lock)
On Thursday we left the Montgomery Canal via Frankton Locks, Liz and Connie came up to say hello at the bottom of the locks as they'd moved to the Weston Arm. We did a right turn at the top to return to Ellesmere to get some food shopping so we moored on the Ellesmere Arm overnight. By dusk the moorings were full but it was fairly quiet until the people who'd been to the pub came back about midnight and Ben had a bark! Before I forget 'Hello' to the lady from  NB Parisienne Star who reads the blog, unsure of the spelling of your boat name.
This morning we began our journey to Llangollen, although the sun was shining it was very cold on the back of the boat. Ben and I warmed up with a brisk walk along the towpath. We worked through the last two locks of the year, New Marton Bottom and Top locks feeling quite chilled and glad to stop on the moorings above the locks to warm up with some hot soup.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Week Away From It All

The last week has been spent in the peace and quiet of the Montgomery Canal. It's been rather damp and dismal with drizzle and mists down at the bottom end but incredibly quiet. Opposite the boat you could watch pheasants and rabbits  frolicking in the field.
On Sunday afternoon I walked to the top of Aston Locks with Ben the dog and found NB Henry coming down so I helped them through before having a ride back down to Maesbury Marsh. Ben and Connie did their usual rolling around together play fighting after seven months apart. Ben got a bit carried away with lots of teeth but no biting thank goodness so I had to tell him that was enough. Then they just ignored each other for the rest of our walk. Nick and Liz  moored their boat up next to us at Maesbury Marsh. and we had a few days together.
I visited the nearby cafe, it used to be a post office/shop but sells very little in the way of basics, just milk, bacon and sausages. Of course the cafe had various cakes and scones on the menu. So on Monday Eric and I went for a long walk to West Felton as we knew there was a shop there, we needed bread and some biscuits and chocolate! It took us an hour and a half to walk the three miles and then we had to walk back! Ben enjoyed it but we were shattered. My boots had decided to give up the ghost and leak so I had very wet feet. I've got some news ones but I've been keeping them until the others died.
On Tuesday Nick and Eric took the boats down through the lift bridge to wind at the last winding hole. The lift bridge wouldn't go all the way up so the boats only just fitted underneath. We moored up just after The Narrowboat Inn. On Tuesday evening  we caught up on all the events of the summer over a few pints in the pub.
Today we headed back up to the Weston Arm as Eric wanted to finish painting the gunnels on the boat. We are now ready for our passage up the Frankton Locks on Thursday lunch time. Bye to Liz, Nick and Connie but we'll catch up in Llangollen as we 're mooring up there for the winter.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Foggy Maesbury Marsh

The wildlife on the 'Monty'
We woke this morning to a very foggy Maesbury Marsh but it soon cleared. Eric and I took Ben for a walk along the newly restored section. It's in water and the plants are flourishing along the banks. We continued our walk to see the section being restored by the Shropshire Union Canal Society and further down a section is also being restored by the Waterways Recovery Group. Ben managed to get a thorn in his paw but I pulled it out and he's fine.
Back on the boat it was roast lamb for three as Ben loves a bit of meat and vegetables. Rice pudding to follow and Ben even had a taste of that!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sunset On The Montgomery Canal

Sunset on the Montgomery Canal
Today Eric has been busy painting the battle scarred gunnels black. His efforts were rewarded by this amazing sunset! He took the photograph too.
We  met a lovely couple Gaynor and Bill, this afternoon who are looking at buying a boat. We probably overwhelmed them with information showing them around the hairy (dog hair!) boat. Ben wanted Gaynor to play ball with him! We hope to see them both on the canal soon with their three cats.......Ben will give the cats a wide berth.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Down The Montgomery Canal

Waiting to go down Frankton Locks
Yesterday we left Ellesmere and headed for the mooring at Frankton Junction to go down  the Montgomery Canal today. We arranged our passage over the phone with CART and as long as you rang before 10am on the day you intended to travel it was OK. 
We had a quiet night and in the morning three more boats arrived to go down onto the Montgomery Canal, so there were four boats going down and four coming up the  locks. The lady lock keeper arrived and unlocked the gates and we were soon on our way.
We didn't go far taking a left turn to moor on the Weston Arm as  Eric wanted to touch up the black on the gunnels as long as it stayed dry.Just us on the Weston Arm tonight and one side is now spotty with primer awaiting a coat of black! More painting to do permitting!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Winter Mooring Booked On The Llangollen Canal

Moored near Ellesmere
Well the annual wait for Winter moorings to come online is over, as usual it was delayed from the original date and then the laptop wouldn't load the page to let me do it. Thanks to my Samsung phone I was able to book the mooring without using the laptop, although I had to find the pages to print off on my account later in the evening.  It took a while to find it in 'my profile' 'my vacancies' but now it's all done!
Today Eric and I are having haircuts in Ellesmere, he needs to get rid of the Captain Birdseye curls but he's keeping his beard of course......I like it!
We don't know what we're doing for the next week or so, we may take a trip down the Monty for a few days. Today we are definately staying put ..............the wind is blowing!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Slow Boat In Ellesmere

The last few days have been spent doing the usual stuff, walking the dog in the rain and doing some shopping. We spent our 72 hours down on the Ellesmere Arm with a nice hard surface alongside the boat, but now we're next to the usual wet grass and mud which towpaths often are. There is a stretch of that horrible gritty path we could have moored next to but the grey dust gets everywhere. Lots of familiar faces amongst the boaters at Ellesmere, some waiting to take up their winter moorings in Ellesmere others going to continuously cruise for the winter.
We moved yesterday after using the services to fill and empty things, so now we're just sitting here before continuing on our journey to Llangollen for the winter months. Ellesmere is a lovely little place and Ben loves the walks through the woods alongside the Mere and the canal towpath. Today the sun is shining so it'll be busy with lots of walkers and dog walkers about.

A view of the Mere at Ellesmere, Shropshire
There's lots of Canaltime and Viking Afloat boats speeding past us this morning at the crack of dawn who needs an alarm clock! But we still love to stay in Ellesmere!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

LIft Bridges And Mosses At Prees Junction

Leaving Grindley Brook behind we cruised up to the Lift Bridge at Whitchurch, the first of five which would take us as far as Prees Junction. Ben and I got off the boat at the bridge hole to start our walk and do the bridge, but it was open and a hireboat let us go through before they closed it. The next one I did and the one after that was opened by a boat coming towards us.   After that I did one and the next one was left open by a hireboat to let us and another boat through, the hireboat crew had already gone so we had to use the boat as a bridge to get across the canal to close it.
At Prees Junction Eric took a left turn down to get fuel at Whixall Marina which meant two more lift bridges......oh no! Ben was already waiting on the bridge for me to catch up! At least both the bridges are operated by hydraulics so dangling from a chain is a thing of the past......I could never open it! At the Marina we used the automated diesel pump set at 0%  (90p a litre) to top up the tank. It uses a card reader so it now doesn't matter if the shop/chandlery is open or not, today it a was shut.
So it was two more lift bridges to get off the Prees Arm and moor up on a boat length of armco on the long straight next to the Mosses and Fens. This morning we woke to a typical autumn mooring surrounded by a cold wet mist which came down overnight, it's beginning to lift a bit so we can see the boat moored a few hundred yards ahead of us.
I've just finished using this secondary double glazing film which I managed to find in the hardware shop in Nantwich. I got the last lot we used in Homebase but I tried the Market Drayton store and they didn't have any. It's amazing stuff you just put the double sided sticky tape around the frame and cut some film slightly bigger than the window and stretch it on, trim it to tidy it up and hairdryer it to get rid off any wrinkles. It's advantage is no more windows running with condensation when it's cold outside, although we've left the kitchen window, bathroom and bedroom port holes without the film so we can open them.
The fire's lit, the windows are done............all set for winter!!!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Back On The Llangollen Canal

Going up but looking down Hurleston Locks

Eric shutting the lock gate behind him.
On Friday we began our journey on the Llangollen Canal, with not a boat in sight as we climbed the flight of locks at Hurleston. Luckily all the locks were set for us. No lock keeper on duty at all, but we had no problems, we lifted the pipe fenders before we entered the narrow bottom lock.

We cruised all the way to Wrenbury, working through Swanley and Baddiley locks and Church Lift Bridge. We met a few boats coming in the opposite direction, mostly hireboats returning to base. Wrenbury was almost deserted except for a private boat and a hire boat so we could moor where we liked next to a muddy towpath.
On Saturday we decided to move while the weather was good and worked through ten more locks in the sunshine.  I saw the house I'd like if I had the cash.......Marbury Lock Cottage is for sale with a mooring..........but I can only dream!
Ben and I had a good walk along deserted towpaths in between the locks. At Grindley Brook we did the first three locks and waited below the staircase until I could go up and find the lock keeper. He was at lunch and the boat at the top wanted to go down first even though the locks were set for us. The lock keeper came back from lunch and told him he had to wait!
So we're moored up above the locks, Eric wants to watch the Grand Prix tomorrow and I want to roast that piece of belly pork I bought at the farm shop........ it's now stuffed and rolled ready to cook.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Going Down The Audlem Flight

Going down the Audlem 15
Today we left our mooring at Coxbank (our 48hrs was up!) and began the descent down through Audlem. The first seven locks were done in the record time of an hour as they were full or just needed topping up where the bottom gates had leaked. Eric always helps with the paddles and gates which speeds thing up too.
In Audlem the waterpoint by The Shroppie Fly was not in use but the one below the lock was available. Outside the pub was extremely quiet - I don't expect the weather helps and  the kitchen is closed until further notice. I popped to the Coop while the water tank filled up before we continued down the last three locks of the flight.
Back on the boat then for a cruise to Coole Pilate where just three boats are moored including us. The wind is pinning us to the bank on the towpath side so no problem mooring up ................let's hope it eases when we want to move on!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Moored Above Audlem

Leaving Market Drayton

On Monday we left Market Drayton after a stop to top up the water tank and empty a cassette. The Shroppie Canal has quite a few of sanitary stations once you've passed Wheaton Aston. Ben and I walked for a while 'til a downpour soaked me in minutes and I got back onboard for a change of clothes while Ben had a rubdown with a towel.
At the top of Adderley Locks we moored up for a pop to the Farm Shop hoping to buy some lamb but they won't have any until Friday so we had some pork instead. Just fairy cakes, eggs and jams on view at the side of the lock with the rest in the shop next to the farmhouse. I asked about her Victoria Sponge Cakes and Alison told us about some thieves who had stolen all the stock from the stall a few weeks ago........Victoria Sponges, Lemon Drizzle and Carrot Cakes, Eggs and Jams including her cool boxes. with bacon and sausages. 
Adderley Locks didn't take long as the boat going down in front was kind enough to lift a paddle for us so by the time we got to the next lock it was already full. We passed them moored up above Audlem Top Lock and said Thanks! We continued down two locks to moor up at Coxbank for a few days, a good spot as Audlem is not far away so we can walk down the locks for anything we need.
We managed to miss the rain today, it emptied down when we got back on the boat and tomorrow we're hoping for a dry day as there's another thirteen locks to do, but going down is usuall much quicker.........let's hope they aren't all set against us.