Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Big One, (This refers to the length of the posting too.)

Maybe make a cup of tea before starting all this...

We had noticed a pattern as we had loitered on this mooring, the many hire boats come out early morning, or rather what they think is early morning, then there is a bit of a lull, then mid to late afternoon it kicks off again with boats leaving the hire base at Trevor.  So, need I say more?  Some idiot put the insomniac in charge of the alarm clock, and slightly after first light we were off.  
On this occasion I did agree with the insomniac as we evidently have a narrow spot to get through and its best not to meet people coming the other way.

Quite nice watching someone else do the lift bridges.....
Its coming.....

Oh gawd

I felt slightly better walking alongside a boat

But only slightly
I could hardly look at Jeff

He didn't seem to care

"Smile" I called, I have got to drive this thing he yelled back

One side, Holy Cow!
Selfie Sticks forever

So Reader you can tell from this one that there is nothing holding you up there, the boat is hanging on by the skin of yer teeth, on a bridge that feels like its made of lego with no sides.  Nobody show my mother these, she thinks I wear a life jacket not a parachute. 

Thank goodness when we passed over the Sellotape join in the structure getting you onto dry land, sort of.

Then there is a sharp turn in the canal to take you to the town of Llangollen which is the end of the canal, or the beginning depending on your point of view.

It was now about 7am by now and no boats anywhere.  The trees gave way so we were on an elevated position with the river way down below and view of the hills all around.  No wonder people come here for their holidays, its as beautiful as anywhere in Europe.

It certainly is more narrow than we have been on, even a narrower than that stretch before the Chirk Aqueduct, but David was pretty cool, happy in the idea we wouldn't meet any boats, Oh bugger here's one.....  No great shakes, but I left coffee making and went back to the nose and be the lookout.

Little did I realise that things could only get narrower and they quickly did.... take a look;

I was right on the pointy end warning of boats coming

This is a lay-by 

Everyone said it was narrow but.....?

Lovely gardens we didn't really get chance to look at.

As you can see I was on the path now running to get ahead.

A wall of rock into which men with picks and shovels built a canal.

Now here not unreasonably, I did wonder if we were going to get wedged......

Concrete edges, no rubber lining or wood to help.

Jeff's turn to be runner now, second attempt at this corner.

Virtually there now

By the time we got here, I was pretty blasĂ© and felt it had really widened out.   This is the old wharf for Llangollen and today its for trip boats, horse drawn and motor narrowboats, past here is the basin to park in.  £6 a night and all the leckkie you can drink and water on your pontoon.  Moored up and pleased with ourselves we went back to the wharf cafĂ© for a bacon sandwich which Jeff was gagging for.

Other family arrived from their house a few towns away and joined us for these.

Biggest bacon sandwich ever.

After a picnic lunch in the sun we didn't really want dinner.

Loitering with intent.

The couple of days we spent watching those nice cows passed, on one of them we drove up to Chirk Castle.  Its a bit of a star as far as castles go.  Built by Edward 1, he had had his fill of the troublesome Welsh and built a string of castles to maintain his rule, he also had his own son crowned Prince of Wales, the title is still given by the ruling monarch to the first born son to this day, (I tell this purely to that new Reader in Brazil).  
I am sorry to say that it rained heavily when we were there (Of course it did)  and I didn't risk getting my camera out.  So here is one I stole from the interweb;

Chirk Castle

Another day we spent while loitering, was trying to find a post office.  Now I know we are in a foreign country, I am happy to celebrate diversity, but frankly it was easier to navigate around Budapest than Wales.  By the time you have decided what name is spelt in English and what the road number is you want you have whizzed past, husband is moaning about where the b*****y heck are we now, so finding a post office to send a borrowed carving knife back to Devon took sometime....  Don't ask!

Afterwards we had had a drink in The Telford Arms at Trevor, overlooking THE Aqueduct, Gongozelling is quite fun.   An Australian family were picking up a boat from the hire centre here we were overlooking, David loved it as while the centre man was showing the parents over the boat, the two children helped to get ready, by uniting all the ropes!

We ordered a ham sandwich to share, now I don't really eat ham much but it was so delicious we ordered another.  

That afternoon, we walked over the Pontiwotnot... There is something you should understand, David hates heights and I hate precipices....

Looks stable enough.

Yep he held on and by golly so did I.  It was ghastly, I'm sure its wobbly.

Good grief, I feel sick.

This bridge is a suicide spot, never mind the other one!

Down under.

Back at the boat, David departed for golf with Jeff.  David has had his golf sticks in the car for a good few weeks now and  finally he gets to play.  Jeff is his niece's husband and the others join us tomorrow in Llangollen.

Meanwhile, I get to do some serious relaxing in his absence.

Supper was chilli fishcakes.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Unknown beauty

Now we have been moored up awaiting visitors.  Its complicated goes the saying goes.  
But on our way here from the village of Hindford where we had supper in a pub called The Jack Myttens.  So for us it was a relatively late morning, 9-9:30 but as David went out to take off the tonneau cover, it was like the Marie Celeste, from full moorings last night to one or two boats this morning.

Well something happened that we weren't used to..... the sun came out.  Its been a while coming but after the monsoon yesterday afternoon it was so marvellous to see it.  We pootled along, feeling almost warm, enjoying terrific views of the countryside.

Just two locks today, at one of them I chatted to a Swedish family on a hire boat, their second holiday boating.  The wife had watched a British TV programme about buying properties in the countryside (Maybe Escape to the country) she had loved the scenery so much here they were!  They didn't seem bothered about the dismay weather either.

We approached Chirk, some nice bends, so going pretty sedately and a lady dog walker called out to us that there was a boat coming towards us, nice lady, we held back to let it come through the bridge hole which it did, the driver had a minor expression of terror on his face, and in his efforts to avoid us went into the bushes his side but not badly, his wife was in the well deck (front pointy end) waving her arms to signify the direction he should take...... 
"Having fun?" I called out
"No, god it is really narrow isn't it?", we were laughing but and told him he was doing all right and boating is great fun, his face broke out into a non terror expression.  Then unbeknown to us there were four boats in total coming, one is easy to avoid but another bunch and I jumped ship and grabbed the centre line.  We thought it pretty narrow, then we went on and discovered that the previous section was wide.  

Bends, foliage leaning, moored boats in the loops of bends and no forward visibility.  I didn't get any photos as I was making coffee, running to the front and standing on the very very from of the bow (Pointy end) looking for oncoming and calling out to pedestrians.

So round the final bend and there is a lady standing on the corner with a phone in hand looking earnest.  Yes of course the penny dropped and she is a crew, sent to the other side of what turned out to be the Chirk Aqueduct.  Her boat was coming.
So after a bit of faffing with me running over thing, checking boats coming, turned out to be three not one, then running a bit further to look into the tunnel, all clear, then running back getting to WaL as the last one past him, urging him with all possible haste to get a wiggle on before anymore oncoming traffic ruined it.
He did

Chirk Aqueduct

This behind is the train bridge, not sure if it is still used, we didn't see any trains here.

River Dee down below.

Impressive or what?

So, small confession, before today, I had no idea there was an aqueduct at Chirk.  Never been here, but it looks awfully like Le Pont du Gard  HERE  ok not quite as good but pretty stunning and its British.  What a treat!

So we get to the end and yes a rogue boat has entered the tunnel so clearly we had to wait along with the other two boats that arrived behind WaL..... but guess what,  a private boat had moored up on the edge of the winding/collecting hole here, David said to them, as he went to help a pair of novice overseas hirers who were far from confident to hover,  he said calmly that they shouldn't be moored up here (Signage says so right there too) and her response was 
"Well there wash't anywhere else for us to moor"  Well of all the arrogance that there should be a mooring for THEM!  

Named and shamed for arrogance and selfishness

Entrance to Crick tunnel

Ok I have calmed down now, but I do get infuriated by some people.
The tunnel was nice and straight, so straight that the next waiting boat had its lights on already and was pointing right in fairly well blinded us as we emerged.

We moored up well before the next aqueduct in a lovely sunny open spot and although not "Stressful" the morning had been eventful.

Spanish omelette for supper with masses of veg and cheese in it to make up for last night where it was scarce to say the least.

These lovely ladies next to the boat.  David Lewis I say they are English Longhorns, what say you?

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Leaving Monty

We pulled the pins or rather untied the ropes and tiptoed off the moorings.  We had to go about half a mile through a narrow section all overgrown both sides with grasses to a lift bridge.  30 turns for some poor crew member to raise the bridge, 
Oh that would be me.  

The winding hole is past the lift bridge and David took about 10 minutes to go further to the winding hole and return to go under the bridge again....  I was dreading a car coming so that I would have to drop the bridge for the car and then raise it again for David, luckily no cars coming on this country lane at 7am.

Some of the interesting buildings down here at Maesbury Marsh

The Navigation Pub on the left and former warehouse on the right.

Look at the windows....

It didn't say so but I thought this might just be Sycamore House, a copy of the building company offices at Ellesmere.  It having a bit of a facelift just now;

Side view of the same house, I like the stone on the bottom half and yes windows again....

Another side view of the warehouse

I hope this lime kiln has a preservation order on it

Here I stood at the lift bridge, more old converted buildings formerly using the canal

Here he comes back about ten minutes later

A pretty uneventful run back.  
I would highly recommend a trip down here.  Its very pretty, but don't come with an empty fridge if you intend to stay a few days.

This isn't one of my New Zealand photos that got mixed up, whatever it is it grows here.

So this was the turning sky as we reversed to fill up on that super speedy water tap.  Yes yes there is that boat still, you know the one, tonight will be its 6th night on the 48 hr moorings and not showing any signs of moving.
Now you will have to take my word for this, but as the seven of us were waiting for the locks to open, the sky turned really black and all the drivers uploaded their wet weather gear hurriedly, at this point I was inside but I heard the crack and sizzle of lightening come down to earth very close, then the thunder directly overhead almost made me fall off the sofa from a reading position, I ran out and several drivers had seen it strike in the next field.....  I remained a bit twitchy, after all there wasn't much choice but to stand there holding the ropes in the open.  

Its a two hour window to get through these Frankton Locks, we got through at 14:10, with three boats remaining.   
Raining now good and proper.  

We turned left and headed for the Jack Myttens Pub along the canal.  I had my wellies on so had dry feet and I have to say my new rainproofs are holding out wonderfully but being rained on for 90minutes without let up is boring and cold.  Water was torrenting down the the wheel marks in the fields and pouring in the canal all along, the towpath disappeared in places and thank goodness I had wellies as the mooring up was done in 7" puddles. 
Moored up finally, HEATING ON, hot showers and to the pub for Burgers for supper.