Sunday, July 28, 2013

Back In South Wales

For the last few days we have been enjoying the peace and quiet of Whixall Marina with the only visitors being two swallows who came in unexpectedly via the side hatch. Eric carefully caught them and put them back outside the way they came in. We've been told they nest under the floating pontoons so that explains the abundance of swallows at Whixall Marina.


Although the boat has stayed in Whixall, we haven't we decided to have a look around the area by car. Last week we went to Wem, Whitchurch and Ellesmere as well as Llangollen, all easily visited by car, and we've quite enjoyed seeing some places we'd only seen from the canal. On foot we'd never got any further than Tesco's in Whitchurch and were surprised to find Aldi, Iceland, Sainsbury's and Homebase there too. In Wem we found a big Coop and the car parking cost was surprisingly 10p for an hour. Although it's probably the nearest place to shop from Whixall, we've found shopping in Ellesmere better as we can take Ben for a walk there too.


Today we came back to Newport, Eric's got an eye clinic appointment and we'll probably stay until after Clare has recovered from her  operation. A pleasant journey down with just a few heavy showers but before we could leave the boat Eric had to reseal around the base of the chimney and one mushroom. Why you ask......we had drips inside the boat in the very heavy rain last night as the rain found it's way in leaving wet marks on the ceiling. It was certainly a noisy night with the rain hammering on the roof.Hopefully the wet wood should dry out ok while we're away. So tonight we won't hear the rain on the roof. 



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Visit To Trevor Rocks And Lunch At Fouzi's

Eric came to Trevor Rocks

A hot dog on Trevor Rocks

Llantisilio Mountains from Trevor Rocks


A view of Castell Dinas Bran from Trevor Rocks
Today we set Google Navigation to take us to the Panorama Walk overlooking Llangollen. Another visit to Wales taking 45 minutes to get there rather than the slow way by boat. As we're off to south Wales at the weekend we didn't have time to go by boat. We parked in the car park by the start of the lower level walk and then walked up the incline slowly....it was very hot! Ben knew where he was going and we walked along on the flat for a while before turning around and coming back to the car. I didn't want Eric to overdo it in the heat so it was a short walk.
 
 
Back in the car, all the windows open except the drivers' side (which needs attention as it won't open) to cool off the car as soon as we were moving. We set off down the Panorama Walk and turned onto Wern Road,  which is a road  I usually walk down into Llangollen....it's very narrow and there were quite a few walkers walking down the hill. We parked and went and had lunch at Fouzi's sitting at one of the outside tables in the shade, because we had Ben with us. The panini's were lovely, we had cool drinks and Ben had a big bowl of water.
 
 
Afterwards we had a scenic drive via the Horseshoe Pass ,Corwen, St Martin's and Ellesmere before coming back to Whixall Marina. I love to see the hills of Wales so it was lovely to go out. Back on the boat I'm chilling or trying to, the fan is on but it's still 80 degrees F or 27 degrees C .......still too hot for me. Ben and Eric are fast asleep!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Walk On The Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses

A view across the Mosses

Today Ben and I took a walk up along the canal towpath  across the footbridge and onto the Mosses for a walk. Reading about it tells me (I Googled it) it's the third largest lowland raised bog straddling the English/ Welsh border near Whitchurch. It's a slowly growing dome of Sphagmum Bog Moss fed only by rain water and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).Lots more information if you want to Google it too.


Today Ben didn't  need to be on a lead as the breeding season for the  birds on the Mosses is over. Although  I'd walked the purple walk before I wasn't that sure of the route, there weren't any little map books in the black boxes. There was a display showing the various routes next to the disabled boaters mooring so I had a look. We made it out of the mosses where the path meets the canal. In places the route was overgrown especially as you got closer to the canal, with nettles, bracken and a few brambles to negotiate. Lots of bugs too, I had bites at ankle height!


There's a feeling of peace and isolation and some warnings not to stray off the tracks on the Mosses, which are peat bogs with various deep drainage ditches  which run alongside some of the tracks. There is a post marking the English /Welsh border so I've actually been walking in Wales today. There's also a marker on the towpath as we walked along the long straight section of canal familiar with boaters. Lots of nettles reducing the width of the towpath at first but one section of towpath from the mosses viewing point onwards now has a hard surface and a disabled boater mooring on the very spot that we used to moor on.


We just had to walk back over the footbridge and back down the Prees Arm, past the two lift bridges then up onto the road at the canal bridge A short walk then to Alders Lane and Whixall Marina. Back on the boat I recovered with a cool drink, while Eric made some toasties. Ben stretched out and went to sleep.....we'd been walking for over two hours.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back In Shropshire, Ellesmere By Car

SShhh in the woods by 'The Mere'
Yesterday we drove back to Whixall Marina, a very hot day but with the windows open on the car we were fine. Back on the boat everything was fine although the 24 hour timer on the battery charger had failed meaning the solar panels had to charge the batteries.....but it didn't matter as we'd had plenty of sun. We like visiting but we do enjoy coming back to it's just so quiet here at Whixall. Last night a young swallow spent the night sitting on our shoreline  as it's strung from the bollard to the roof of the boat, twittering away to itself.
This morning it's so much cooler we decided to go to Ellesmere by car, just fifteen minutes it took compared to three hours by boat. We enjoyed a lovely walk alongside 'The Mere' in Ellesmere, one of the many lakes or meres in this area where water accumulated in the dips left by glaciers in the Ice Age. Here are the photographs I took today. I tried uploading from my laptop directly to Blogger but it didn't work. I uploaded them via Picasa web albums, nothing else seems to work.While I was away I used my tablet and even though I can take photos with that .....Blogger won't upload them from my gallery.
Eric and Ben near 'The Mere' at Ellesmere

A view across 'The Mere'

Another view

An unusual mode of transport

Swans on 'The Mere'

No passengers on the return trip

Friday, July 19, 2013

Far Too Hot For Me

Ben looking at the water....he did't go in!

We're still in very sunny Newport until tomorrow. Ben and I have been having some walks in the early morning to avoid the worst of the heat. We've explored familiar haunts along the Crumlin Arm of the Mon and Brecon Canal and the Alt-yr-yn Nature Reserve near Clare's house. We've been going out so early Eric's still  in bed. Eric and I have been out and about in the mornings but we've spent most of  the afternoons and evenings inside, it's just been too hot for me.


Eric's had his eyes checked and is back on the steroid drops for uveitis (inflammation of a layer in the eye) so we'll be back again for more eye clinic appointments. He's also had an AAA scan (abdominal aortic aneurysm) which they have started given male over 65 year olds in Wales and he doesn't have an AAA.


We are going back to Whixall tomorrow for  a week or so before we come back again for several weeks if Clare's back operation due on the 6th of August, actually happens. Fingers crossed because it's been a long wait.


We've not been far this visit to Newport as I just don't enjoy this sort of weather.....it's far too hot. Yesterday afternoon was spent at an unplanned family barbecue at Sally and Dave's in her shady garden in Abercarn. Dave makes an excellent cook, he even bought a new barbecue  to cook the food on. Ben followed our granddaughter Gwen around all afternoon and got lots of tit bits.Back at Clares he just slept he'd had a busy afternoon, in fact hes currently asleep now...its too hot for him too!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Life In The Fast Lane

Yesterday We swapped the slow pace of the canals for the fast pace of the roads as we travelled down to Newport today. Eric and I shared the driving although I let him drive on the narrow country lanes from Whixall to the A49.....I like white lines in the centre of my roads. A pretty journey with lovely scenery through Shropshire and Herefordshire with hills........and then a spectacular mountain, the Skirrid near Abergavenny. It's been incredibly hot today, 27 degrees C in Newport but cooler in a house than it was on the boat, after all it's a metal box. Had some lunch then we're just relaxing afternoon, even Ben is flaked out on the rug in Clare's lounge.


Today Ben and I were out early walking in the woods near Clare's house, before a rather hotter walk along the nearby canal although Ben cooled off by paddling in the canal. We met loads of bikes on the towpath but only one other dog. I was really hot walking back up the hill. Ben was then left in the cool of the house while I  went to see the nurse for my annual blood tests and to check my blood pressure.......it was fine.  After that, a bit of shopping while we waited for the call back from the hospital as Eric needs to see the doctor in eye clinic.They rang back with an appointment for tomorrow morning.excellent service from the nhs in Wales.


Another lazy afternoon followed





Saturday, July 13, 2013

Return trip To Whixall

After our two days at Llangollen Basin we had to move on, Ben and I walked on ahead with the narrow one-way traffic sections of canal to get through. We met up with another boat going away from Llangollen so we followed them through as they were using walkie-talkies and told us when the way was clear. It's always a much quicker trip going back as there's no flow against you, so it didn't take long to get to the moorings at Whitehouse Tunnel. We were glad to be moored up with some shade from nearby trees.....it was just so hot.


On Friday we set off after three day boats, the last of which was still getting the hang of steering. We followed them through Whitehouse and Chirk Tunnels, then across the Chirk Aqueduct which was clear for the convoy. Just two locks to work through at New Marton and we moored up just before Jack Myttons. Again glad of the shade to cool off. The moorings  soon all filled up with the pub being the attraction.There was one noisy boat full of lads on a stag party but it didn't last forever, soon all was quiet other than our freezer's humm as it tries to cope with the heat. It seems to be always on, it's freezing even though we have a flashing led telling us the batteries are low, even when we were on shoreline and the meter shows 12.7 ! I defrosted it, hope it helps. Has anyone else had this probem with Shoreline small chest freezers.....hope it's not going to die on us they're expensive.


Today, Saturday we're  back in Whixall Marina. It's supposed to be the hottest day of the year and it certainly felt like it. On water it usually feels cooler but not today, there wasn't a breath of wind as we cruised......the wind turbines were idle too. Anyway we're on shorepower so the fan's blowing....getting us a little cooler!


Tomorrow we're off to sunny Wales.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Day In Llangollen

A view of Castell Dinas Bran


This morning Ben and I were out for a walk early hoping it would be cooler than later in the day.The children's choirs from the Eisteddfod started at 9.30 so Eric had something to listen to while he did a little bit of painting on the bow of the boat. Our walk started up past Ysgol Dinas Bran (the school) very slowly up the incline. We met a long procession of  pupils from the school who had been for a walk up to Castell Dinas Bran (the castle) coming back down to school. We had a quick break in the sheep field on a bench before continuing on our way.

Ben in the shade

We close the shady track past the farm and through another sheep field before turning around and retracing our steps....it was cooler to walk in the shade. In the winter we usually walk back down the road making a circular route. We saw some lovely foxgloves  in a large clump near the edge of a field with sheep in it and alongside the track amongst the fir trees and the bracken.

Foxgloves

Foxgloves amongst the bracken


Ben waiting for me
 
Back on the boat Ben had a good drink of water and stretched out for a nap. I had ten minutes before Eric and I went to get some fresh food in Llangollen. The lockie was right It certainly is 'the madness' here, with the pavements very busy indeed, with groups of identically dressed children and their minders from the Eisteddfod.


We had an ice-cream on the way back to the boat......it's just so hot here. Eric and I were certainly glad to get back on the boat....we're on shoreline so the fan is helping to keep the boat a bit cooler. 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Photographs Of 'The Spectacular Opening Town Parade'

The crowds waiting for the parade
Eric went down to watch the parade and took loads of photographs. I selected a few to give you some idea of the colourful parade. I pinched the blog title from the event programme.
 
Looking down Castle Street

Welsh of course



More Welsh youngsters




Smiling at the camera!





This evening we can hear the evening event 'Carnival of the Nations' - a celebration of international music and dance, in the mooring basin.

Over The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct To Llangollen Basin

Looking back across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
We left our mooring near Whitehouse Tunnel by nine o'clock, up early because the trains run close by and we heard one about five am and another about seven am. But an early start was good as we wanted to moor at Llangollen. A good trip really we followed two other boats across the aqueduct and ended up doing the narrows in convoy with another following us. In the mooring basin there were just four spaces, I've never seen it so full. We paid £12 for two nights mooring with electricity, paying at the Horse-drawn Boat Reception as there's nobody employed by CART collecting the mooring fees.......although I can't see them issuing mooring tickets for nothing.
 

Llangollen Mooring Basin


It's pretty full here

Monday, July 08, 2013

Crossing Chirk Aqueduct - Welcome To Wales

Chirk Aqueduct alongside the railway aqueduct

Welcome to Wales with no queue ahead
We left our mooring above New Marton locks and cruised in the sunshine. Ben had to wait for his walk while I put the Dyson round to get rid of the dog hair. Very hot walking today so we enjoyed the cool of Chirk Tunnel after we crossed the aqueduct with it's 'Welcome To Wales' sign in English and Welsh.
It's been a very different trip because we usually do this trip in late October and the trees aren't green like they are at the moment. It also looks very different from late March when we leave Llangollen to go on our travels when there's little greenery. This year we left when everything was covered in a deep layer of snow.
This year we won't be wintering in Llangollen as we now have a home mooring at Whixall Marina which is actually a residential one so we now have a home! We'll be using it as a base in the Summer and going out for cruises before returning to Whixall to pick up the car and go visiting in Newport so they'll see a lot more of us. No doubt we'll be frozen in wintertime but we can always get out by road.
We moored up after Whitehouse Tunnel on the empty visitors moorings to enjoy a quiet afternoon with occasional trains disturbing our peace.

Update:
We had a phone call from Nick, Liz (and Connie) on their way to the 'The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod' in Llangollen. They wanted to know where we were and they popped in for a cuppa with Connie their dog, Ben was all excited but calmed down eventually! Nice to see them.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sunday On The Boat

Another scorching day so Ben and I had an early walk when it was cooler leaving Eric preparing the bow to paint. Some new hire boaters hadn't mastered the art of steering and were zig-zagging down the canal hitting the banks.... I told him to steer the way he didn't want to go.....I hoped it helped.


I came back and sat under a tree as it was much cooler outside the boat in the shade. Despite the heat I cooked a roast dinner followed by rice pudding which didn't help the interior temperature on the boat......but we were outside anyway. Ben enjoyed sitting under the tree too.


I did some washing which dried really quickly hung outside and  then read my book sitting under that tree. Eric watched the Grand Prix after tea and after that we decided to work through New Marton Locks. We'd watched the chaos all day at the locks, with queues and hireboats everywhere. The lockie at Frankton said we were going to the madness when we said we were going to Llangollen....she may be right!



Saturday, July 06, 2013

Another Problem.....The Water Pump

The water pump has been annoying the last few days, not going off when you turn off a tap or flush the loo and having a will of it's own coming on the middle of the night. We thought it might be a low batteries problem but it still happened after the engine had been running. We searched for a leak but the bilge was dry and the cabin bilge pump hadn't come on. Underneath the pump was dry so we looked at the trouble shooter which suggested a pressure switch defect or a diaphragm puncture so not having any spares we took the easy option and Eric replaced it with our spare pump.The pump was nearly three years old so it hasn't done bad.So  problem solved.....it took longer to empty the cupboard to get to it than to fix it. A good time to clear out a cupboard!


I know things happen in threes......what's next?

Moving Day......Up Frankton Locks

The last two days have been a bit hectic as we've been doing a bit of painting tidying up the bow, and painting the well deck floor. The deck is done but the bow is a work in progress so looks a mess at the moment. 


We've enjoyed the peace and quiet of the Weston Arm but booked a passage up the locks for today. We had a phone call to tell us our daughter Clare was having another scan on her back and her surgery may be brought forward so booked our passage just in case. As there was no change since her last scan she'll have to wait another four weeks for her operation.


So we didn't need to go back to Newport and were able to continue on our way to Llangollen. The weather is glorious....I was melting doing the locks at Frankton. We made our way up the locks passing just one boat coming down. The lass who is the current lock keeper got the staircase ready as we approached and helped us through.


We stopped after just an hour's cruise just below New Marton locks, it was so hot we'd had enough for one day. The painting on the bow  may continue if it cools down a bit. The grass is high on the towpath as nothing as been done, not even the visitor moorings have been cut yet in the winter they were grass cutting in the snow in Llangollen.. Thank goodness for hayfever tablets or I would be suffering.



Thursday, July 04, 2013

Frankton Locks On The Montgomery Canal

Ben waiting at Frankton Top Lock

Frankton Top Lock
We spent a quiet night above Frankton locks but the workmen made an early start repairing the foot bridge over the Top Lock so we heard their vehicles on the gravel track alongside the moorings. Ben and I went for a morning walk as we weren't going down the locks until midday. It took just 45 minutes to go down the locked once they were unlocked as we were first in the queue to go down. I bought some fresh free range eggs from the stall by the bottom lock, dated with the day they were laid. In the past they used to be marked with the hen's name as well which always made me smile.
 
 
At the bottom we did a left turn as we wanted to do a bit of rubbing down and painting and the Weston Arm is a good spot with hard sides. Just a 48 hour mooring though now, it used to be longer. So now the messy painter (me) has given the  deck a coat of paint and the careful painter (Eric) is painting the bow of the boat. I always manage to get paint on me while Eric never does! Ben's confused because he has go out for a wee via the back doors, as the deck is still wet.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Ellesmere To Frankton Junction

This morning we popped into Tesco and met the crew of NB Klara who read this blog and are also Welsh. Nice to chat to you...I'm sure we'll meet again. 


Today we'd had enough of the busy Ellesmere Arm and decided to move. You'd be surprised by the number of people and dogs walking past the boats. Ben is a pain when he barks at passing people! We left our space and it was filled immediately by another boat. We winded at the bottom of the arm and headed to the waterpoint to fill up with water....it took an hour as so much water was leaking from the other side of the waterpoint. Further up you could hear running water and that waterpoint had no water at all....maintenance certainly needed here or perhaps nobody from the nearby CART yard has noticed.


Waiting for the water to fill, we did the cassettes and got rid of the rubbish.....not an easy task as the skip was so full. Then the fun began a horrendous noise as the Travelpower alternator belt failed.......stripped down to the  metal cords. Luckily Eric was able to fit a new belt in the time it took to fill the water tank. Now we need to get a spare just in case.


We finally got going and moored up above Frankton Locks, we'd booked a passage down them for tomorrow lunchtime. The sun is now shining on the panels, so nice to have sunshine. We passed some hireboaters this afternoon who commented on the unusual thing in the sky....the sun!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Whixall Marina To Ellesmere

A view of Whixall Marina

Yesterday we spent a lazy day at Whixall Marina, a very quiet place with very little boat movement. The occasional boat comes down for fuel and  a few hire boats come and go but we can't see any of this from our mooring. We managed to get a 3 signal on my mifi dongle so had the internet to amuse myself. Eric was quite happy with the British Grand Prix on the television to watch. We ate our Sunday Roast at teatime so I didn't disturb his viewing.
 
NB Bendigedig on the Prees Branch

Today we decided to make a move out of the marina, luckily it wasn't too windy as a narrow boat manoeuvring in wind is not good. We made our way up the Prees Branch with just two lift bridges to raise and lower before it was cruising to Ellesmere. As usual they each took 50 turns to open but not quite so many to put down. Ben and I walked for a while, Eric did have one dip in the weed hatch when he lost his forward drive, my fault he'd pulled over to pick up Ben and I.
 
 
Prees Junction
 
The cruise to Ellesmere took just three hours, with lots of hire boats on the move. Ben and I got back off for another walk from Colemere to Ellesmere passing Blakemere on the way....Ben managed to stay out of the lake this time. Perhaps he was remembering the wash he had after going in the dirty water of the unnavigable section of the Prees Arm yesterday .......he came out covered in yukky black gunge and mud yesterday! We moored up on the Ellesmere Arm where I could get a 3 signal. We did a bit of shopping in Ellesmere before we settled for a lazy evening onboard the boat.


A view of Blakemere