Friday, August 30, 2013

A Week In Whixall

Nothing particularly intersting has happened this week although we've quiet enjoyed being hooked up to shoreline with a water tap nearby on the electricity bollard. Sometimes it's just nice to moor up and stay put. We've been  having a look around the local area and walking Ben of course. Whixall Marina is a great place to be as  Ellesmere, Whitchurch and Wem are not far away.

We've been invaded by wasps at the marina, so we've had to put mesh on the inside of the mushrooms to try and  keep them out. Unfortunately there lots of gaps at the rear on the hatch, so they still find their way in. We always know when one has succeeded , Ben hides under the bed.

The swans on the Mere at Ellesmere

We visited Ellesmere and had a walk by the Mere before sampling the fish and chips from one of Ellesmere's fish and chip shops. We sat on a bench at the end of the Canal Arm and watched the boats turning and mooring up. It's strange going by car, being the tourists watching the boats.

Yesterday we used Google Navigation on my phone to find the way to Colemere via narrow country lanes and walked around the lovely mere, it's only ten minutes away from Whixall and a great dog walking place. Ben loves it in woods, loads of smells and trees to water.

This morning Ben and I had a walk down the unavigable section of the Prees Branch which is now a Nature Reserve. Plenty of bugs down there but I've managed to stay bite free all week due to my insect repellant. The swans and their cygnets have vacated their spot on the towpath, so we were able to walk to the end of the Nature Reserve.

At the weekend we're going to Newport for a few days to look after our grandaughter Gwen.When we come back we're planning trip down the Montgomery Canal by boat of course.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bank Holiday Weekend

The Bank Holiday Weekend has escaped the boaters here in Whixall, it reminds quiet as usual. We decided to come back to the marina because we wanted to avoid the madness on the canal. Here there are no boats passing at 6am and no boats crashing into us as they pass too close.

We have been out in the car which made quite a change from 4mph or usually much less. We went food shopping in Wem where there's a big Coop, it was a change not to have to carry shopping a long way back to the boat.

On Saturday we decided to go out for a drive to Wales, I wanted to see some hills and I wanted to see the sea. We headed for Barmouth, why there you ask? Mainly because when we moored in Llangollen for the winter we used to see the X94 Barmouth bus and often wondered what Barmouth was like. I imagined a small place but it's a very big place if it's beaches and seaside you're want. The beach is segregated so there's a huge area where dogs are allowed on a lead, not that the dog owner's there read that bit. Ben stayed on his long's a very big beach if he decided to go and play with the other dogs, and he can be unsociable with big dogs so that's not a good idea.

Yesterday was a thoroughly lazy day apart from Eric and I taking Ben for a long circular walk starting down the Prees Nature Reserve and returning via some country lanes with the help of Google Maps.Ben was flaked out afterwards so it must have been long enough. We had a very lazy afternoon after we'd eaten our Sunday roast.

Today I did the walking, leaving Eric in charge of the dyson.....he does a very good job when it comes to vacuuming.  I had the misfortune to walk past a moored boat with Ben closely to me on a short lead as I could see a dog outside the boat. It came growling towards us and attacked Ben on his back with lots of snarling and barking. The owner did come out but not before Ben had been jumped on.....he took his dog in ....not even an apology. It was a totally unprovoked attack.Needless to say we walked via the Mosses on the way back.Luckily Ben had slobber on his back but no blood, no wonder he doesn't like black dogs.

It's been incredibly hot today, I felt quite sick when I got back, the heat or the upset, I was actually sick! But I'm fine now...feeling much better!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back To Whixall Marina

What have we been up to the last few days.....nothing exciting, we've been moored near Prees Junction. We've had a busy few days doing some jobs on the boat. There's always something on the list (not that we make a list) waiting to be done. The first job was painting the gunnels on one side with black paint to cover two years of scrapes. After that it was time to treat some tiny rust spots on the one side so they could be touched up with a spot of paint. 

The one side done we went for a ride, while I walked the dog Eric steered the boat. We winded the boat at the next turning point after Prees Junction which was Platt Lane and then headed back to moor after Prees Junction in the same spot but facing the other way. It's  a good place to paint the gunnels on the  other side of the boat as the bank is low. 

In the morning I put on a long sleeved top with my trousers were tucked into my socks, then bug repellant sprayed on any skin showing.......those bugs weren't getting another meal on the Mosses. I now have a leaflet showing the trails so I chose another one, which took about an hour. 

While I'd been walking Eric had washed and dried the other side of the point ready for a polishing session. This time I started polishing at the bow and Eric started at the stern.....we met in the middle. Too shattered to paint that day we relaxed. Just as well Eric didn't paint as we had a thunder storm with very heavy rain. It was bouncing on the gritty towpath and hammering on the roof, a few drops of rain came in via the mushrooms but no drips otherwise.

Today we headed for the turning circle at Hampton Bank enjoying a pleasant cruise before turning round and heading back to Whixall Marina.I walked for a while not enjoying the nettles canalside by the Mosses, but managed only to get stung once. It's been a battle of the bugs this week, as I've been bitten by a mosquito in the nights. There's bug screens up, but somehow one little mossie finds it's way in and has a meal on me. It looks as though Deet will be my new perfume.

So we're currently having a week in the marina  before heading back to Newport, Clare's operation is now on the 24th of September....maybe it'll happen after four postponements.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Just Pictures Of The Mosses

The sign at the canal side entrance

A map of the Mosses- I walked the  triangular purple walk

A view across the Mosses

The marker post with purple arrows

You can see the peat exposed on the route 

Heather growing alongside the track

This grows in the bog

Another view of the Mosses with big skies

The post showing you cross the Wales/ England border

More heather

Signs showing species to spot
Ben and I walked the purple trail this morning, mainly because I've walked it before and it starts and finishes on the Llangollen Canal. I love the feeling of loads of space on the Mosses with the big skies. Ben enjoys sniffing and smelling as well as watering anything vertical. I just enjoy the peace, all you hear are the birds.
Eric had been busy while I was out washing one side of the boat. After a sandwich  lunch it was a joint effort polishing the boat with Craftmaster Carnauba Wax which means you can see your face in the shine. It takes the dullness off the paint surface and restores the took us two hours. Now we need to do the other side!

Moored Near Prees Junction

NB  Bendigedig
Yesterday morning I walked Ben the dog while Eric had a haircut at the barber's in Ellesmere. A pleasant walk until I met Eric and we passed a lassie type collie which snapped at Ben. We didn't realise  that he'd nipped him until we saw blood from his nose and mouth as Ben doesn't make a fuss if he's hurt himself......he must have got far too close! The bleeding soon stopped  after a bit of first aid with some antiseptic wipes from the chemist. We had a good look when we got back to the boat and found four places where the teeth got him but he's OK, we'll just keep an eye out for any signs of infection.
We left Ellesmere and headed for countryside for some peace and quiet. It's nice to moor near towns but you do get the early morning walkers and joggers passing by and the gritty towpath means you hear the footfall. Quite a few holiday boats about but not so manic as nearer Llangollen, a very pleasant cruise as far as the long straight before the junction with the Prees Branch. The canal is nice and wide so a good place to moor although I thought a few boats were coming to tea as they were so close.
A quiet night with only animal sounds and I had a very good sleep, the first for a while. Often I'm up making tea and reading in the night as I can't sleep. This morning  Eric's has plans to wash and polish one side of the boat, weather permitting. I'll help when I get back from walking the dog. I'm going on the nearby Mosses but this time the insect repellent  will be applied and the legs and arms covered up so I don't get eaten alive like the last time I went walking there.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Return To Ellesmere

A very full mooring basin at Llangollen
We though we'd be escaping the chaos as we left Llangollen but even before we left we met boaters inventing new rules. On the narrows between the mooring basin and the first house, no boats in the channel so we could go but met a boat just about to come on without checking if anything was coming. We were told there's a sign saying give way to oncoming boats.....there isn't......just tells you to check if a boat is in the narrows. They said it was their right of way because there were three boats going their way.All they had to do was take a look around the corner!

At the next narrows I walked ahead and telephoned back to say it was OK to come through, no problems that time or at the final stretch of narrows so we were soon at Trevor. Coming out of the bridge hole the canal was blocked by a boat waiting to come towards Llangollen.We had no choice we had to take a left for Trevor Basin as there was a boat behind us, then wind the boat to go across the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct.

Trevor Basin
Looking back across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

At the Fron Lift Bridge a gongoozler told us we should put the bridge down as we left it even though there was another boat coming through and they were going to shut it. The sign says only three boats can go through if there's road traffic but there wasn't any and there were only three boats anyway.

Chirk Aqueduct leading to the Chirk Tunnel

Chirk Tunnel with nobody waiting

At Chirk Tunnel and Aqueduct it  was plain sailing with no boats coming towards  so we continued on our way leaving Wales behind to enter England- a truly great border crossing! Some hireboaters told us there's a new rule at Chirk Tunnel which says only two boats should go each way, taking it in turns. No signs say this and it would certainly cause considerable congestion with a short waiting area after the Chirk Aqueduct.

We  had fun all the way to Ellesmere,  with boats passing on any side they chose, lots of panic at bridge holes by the new boaters starting their holidays. Eric rescued a day boat stuck in the mud in a winding hole, by towing it off. At Ellesmere there was no choice of mooring we ended up moored up near the entrance to the nature reserve. On the Ellesmere Arm there were well spaced out boats but no room for our boat.

Eric found the dot in the sky so we had TV and after after tea I went and got some food to fill up the empty freezer which is working  now the low power problem has been sorted. The flashing LED at the back of the freezer had told us of low power and we thought the freezer was faulty but it was the 12v electrics on the boat. Good job I didn't order a new one.

Clare's operation was the 2nd of September but it's been postponed again and she has to ring up for a new date. Perhaps it'll actually happen on the next date, but I won't hold my breath!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Maestermyn To The Rescue

We are currently moored up on the Llangollen Wharf, in the same spot we spent last winter by chance. We'd had a problem with flashing cabin lights earlier in the day and when we finally turned off the engine and moored up, we had no 12v power on the domestic side.....oh no! A call to Maestermyn Marine and their engineer came to our rescue as we needed 12v power for the water pump, fridge and the toilet. 

He tested the system and eventually found the problem was with the isolation switch on the 12v domestic side, which had deteriorated and  was stopping all the power getting through. That was replaced and we now have power. The good news is the freezer now works correctly with no flashing led warning us of low power. So it was the 12v electrics with a problem  not the freezer .....a far cheaper fault. 

Yesterday (Tuesday) every mooring space in Llangollen was full, today it's a bit quieter as many boats left before eight o'clock to go through the narrows. On our way into Llangollen we were lucky we didn't have to wait long after I went ahead to see if anything was coming. The boat in front of us had gone without looking and had to reverse back ....he wasn't happy! Just one boat came through and then it was our turn as I stopped a couple of boats at the Llangollen end.

Tomorrow (Thursday) Lisa and Gwen are going home by train from Ruabon, with cheaper advanced tickets purchased today in Wrexham. It's certainly going to be quiet with no early morning calls from Gwen. We have to be away from Llangollen by four pm, so after we do a bit of food shopping we'll be on our way.  Hopefully we'll get through the narrows quickly and as we're going with the flow progress to Trevor should be better.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Queues, Aqueducts And Tunnels

The first queue of the day

Gwen's first time on a boat in a tunnel

Going over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Today turned into a very long day as we wanted to get as close to Llangollen as we could. The first queue of the day was a hour long wait to get up the first lock. After that progress was so unbelievably slow as we followed a family on a Canaltime boat each having a go at steering and zigzagging along the canal hitting bridges and the bank on each side. They were unwilling to let us pass and insisted on going first through the tunnel, they stopped several times in the tunnel and then revved the boat making an incredible noise and smoking us out!! We've never had to stop behind a boat in a tunnel and ask the boat in front when they were going to move.After the tunnel they pulled over and said they were glad the tunnel was over. We were just glad to get past.
Our progress was much better after that and we crossed the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct following another slow boat, but at least they were able to steer. Gwen enjoyed her first trip across the aqueduct. We moored up just before the Lift Bridge near Llangollen, we'll do the final leg into Llangollen tomorrow. Tonight we have drips on the roof from the trees, much better than a bird scarer which began it's noise at 5.20 am this morning!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gwen's Holiday Pictures

A boat ride with Grandad

Another ride in Ellesmere with her mum

Enjoying the ride alongside the Mere

We arrived back in Whixall on Friday with our visitors Lisa and her daughter Gwen and a big bag of food to refill the fridge which had been turned off while we were away. We usually leave it on with the battery charger on a timer but the timer had died again so we decided to turn off the fridge and just keep the batteries topped up with the solar panels.Everthing was turned off except the bilge pump.Although we have a three stage battery charge but prefer not to leave it all the time. While we were away we had a heavy duty timer delivered ...let's hope it survives when we try it out.

On Saturday morning we left the marina deciding to head towards Ellesmere and then on to Llangollen for Lisa and Gwen's stay with us, mainly because there would be more to entertain Gwen. In Ellesmere we went to the park and the Mere and visited a few old haunts led into the woods by Ben the dog. Then we did some food shopping to keep us going until we got to Llangollen.The freezer is empty and turned off as it failed to keep cold enough and I was concerned any food kept in it would be spoiled.Not sure I'd replace it as the noise  of a freezer under the bed can be irritating for a light sleeper like me.

Gwen's been keeping us all busy all day but by seven o'clock she's fast asleep until the morning. Her mornings do start rather early for us about seven but we stay put until a bit later, leaving her mum to entertain her.Today we took Ben for walk and later we made cakes which she thoroughly enjoyed....she likes to lick the bowl just like my children when they were her age....such a long time ago.

Tonight we found a quiet mooring half a dozen bridges from  Frankton Junction but it turned out to be spoiled by three gunshot sounds  every so often until eight o'clock, must be a bird scarer. Ben had retreated to hide in the shower room and he's currently still hiding in a dark corner although the noise has stopped. Hopefully  he'll come out later.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Back Onboard On Friday

The last week has flown by and we don't seem to have had many quiet moments. I've had far too many MacDonald's this week too. Yesterday was our 42nd wedding anniversary....where have all those years gone? We didn't fancy going out so you'll never guess what we had to eat........a  MacDonald's!! Eric went to the drive through, now his window is fixed. The driver's side window wouldn't open but Clare's friend Ben got it sorted for us. It can be confusing with two Ben's so Ben the dog gets called ' Bendedead dog' which was always Clare's name for him from the time we had a 12 week old  bundle of trouble.

The car's all sorted, serviced and checked to find the only thing needed was new brake discs and pads on the front. The engineer said for it's age  (11 years old) it was in very good condition. It's been so much easier having wheels again and Eric's happier knowing it's all in working order.....he does worry! We've also sorted out AA Cover so he should have even less to worry about.

Tomorrow we're heading back to Whixall for our planned cruise with two extra passengers as Lisa and Gwenllian are coming back with us for a holiday. They'll catch a train back when they've had enough of us. Gwenllian says she's staying for five days but we need to be near a railway station for their return trip so we'll see how many days it turns out to be.

Clare's operation has been moved forward another week to a September date but if it'll happen I really don't know. For now we have three weeks before we return to Newport so that's plenty of time to actually cruise......and we're really looking forward to being on our floaty home. Houses are OK for a few weeks but after that I want to be afloat again.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Just An Update From Newport (South Wales)

We arrived in Newport to Lisa and Gwenllian waiting at Clare's house so we had a good catch up which continued in a meal out at The Man of Gwent on Chepstow Road. The others had lovely meals but my salmon salad was lacking in tomatoes, cucumber, peppers etc, it was mostly lettuce with one tiny tomato and a couple of pieces of cucumber....I should have complained but I don't like to make a fuss.

The last few days have been spent dog walking in various locations and visiting our family as well as food shopping.It's been hectic in the mornings but most afternoons have been relaxing as we stayed in avoiding the heat of the afternoons. Today is 27 degrees C and Ben is stretched out fast asleep on a rug. It's great for drying the washing but too hot for me. I definately could not survive in a hot country!

The NHS postponed Clare's operation until the 27th of August and  she's not happy about it, she just wants her life back again rather than constantly taking loads of pills to get rid of the pain. I've got everthing crossed it actually happens then. We're staying for a few more days while  the car gets serviced and  a new MOT. I've also got a mammogram, nothing to worry about just a routine three yearly appointment.

Then we're planning a boat trip on the Shroppie and Staffs & Worcester Canals down to Stourport before we retrace our steps to Whixall Marina for the end of August, so we can come back to Newport to look after Clare. Our best laid plans don't seem to happen, something always puts a spanner in the don't hold your breath.