Sunday 30 July 2023

Galloping though the blog to catch up.

 We moved off the next morning.  Happy to leave the miserable man and his brewing.  They were planning to stay for a few days longer.

We made our way along the canal, a dreadful forecasted day was due.  Now the forecasting has been very hit and miss recently, when you are a "Weatheraholic" like David is, it drives you mad, but we did decide to go on a trip on this dreadful day.

We moored up at Bettisfield and drove to a Welsh National Trust property called Erddig, its south of Wrexham so only thirty mins away.    HERE  for Wikipedia.

Quite a place full of the original contents of the house through the ages and this was due to the family never throwing a thing away, just storing it all in unused rooms.  Reading between the lines the family were asset rich and cash poor by the beginning of the C20th added to which a couple of unmarried brothers, (Crackpot I'd say) the last one ending up living in three rooms I think it was.  But now restored it was fascinating glimpse into past centuries.

Erddig, It nearly fell down in the C20th due to subsidence from a nearby coal mine.  Like many other stately homes the family went broke and eventually the NT took it on on condition that all the contents went with it. 

One of the longest borders we have ever seen.  Its murky but that was the only reason we visited.

The nearby coal mine that was responsible for the almost collapse of the house as seen from the garden terrace.

On we trundled.   

Due to weather and Wimbledon we arrived at Grindley Brook Locks at about 18:00 one evening.  No one about and the sky had become as black as your hat.  I walked forward to start prepping and a boat was coming up.  I helped them and as I chatted to the captain a Saint Bernard's head appeared in front of him.  Well my heart melted and I asked if I could have her.  She was a rescue dog, they'd had her six months, the wife said yes she's hairy and smelly, the captain said no.

Oh Reader I remember the hair and smell so well as after a family holiday to Switzerland we visited The St Bernard Pass and the monastery where the cattle dogs were bred and trained as rescue dogs in days gone by.

We gave a St Bernard puppy to our daughters for Christmas that year and she, Lottie, became my fourth daughter included in everything.  She guarded the children and our home ferociously and was loving, gentle, hairy and smelly.  Beloved by us all and still missed.

When they'd gone I reset the locks.  I was watching the ever blackening sky and to save a bit of time cut short the emptying of the bottom lock thinking it might be okay....  I man walked past and I asked him if he was a boater?
Nah he said 
Oh okay thank you, 
Why what do you want?
Oh I was just wondering if that bottom lock is empty enough?
No!  Its got to be completely empty.
Great.  I'd wasted time.  Back to it and did it properly.
Blacker sky.  While waiting out of sight David had donned full wet weather gear plus got the tonneau cover ready.  I was too hot to put a coat on and resigned myself to a soaking and hot shower.

Grindley Brook Staircase flight in the middle one I think.

Oh gawd.....

Brighter behind WaL but the rain wasn't coming from there...

One more to do....

Well I couldn't quite believe that we got down the six locks dry, okay I was dry but as we moored up on the straight below the locks after wriggling ourselves into a WaL sized spot the drops began.  I disappeared inside and David got a bit damp as it finally walloped it down.  

The next day was dry and we set off with the usual task of avoiding the rain but trying to get 4G for the tennis.  We'd had decent reception at Marbury so that's where we headed. 

At Marbury  intending to treat ourselves to lunch again at the Swan, but in the end we went into Whitchurch by car and went to their sister pub called The Black Bear. 
Whitchurch is a lovely place, wonderful period buildings, individual shops, plenty of cheap parking and The Black Bear was fab.  I couldn't manage a dessert and that is saying something.  

The canal arm is a way from the village centre but walkable, there's a Sainsbury's, and a Lidl but to carry shopping to the canal I'd consider it a hike.

The Black Bear Pub, the building is C17th.

David tasted the local beers and liked all of them.

Cute as can be house.

Great High Street.

Nice end to the day near Marbury.

Now I'm writing this from home I can't quite remember how we came to do a couple more evening cruises but we did.  The tennis matches were getting exciting with the players I wanted to get through but still the main player I didn't want getting through.  

We'd had some very strong winds so perhaps that was it, by the late afternoon the wind generally had calmed.  I do remember jumping off the boat at Wrenbury to do the electric lift bridge but an oncoming boat was already there and the crew had started.  She waved us through so I cut along to the next lift bridge, but met a boat who we had met a week before, they were on their way to Trevor but didn't fancy the narrow stressful section up to Llangollen,  I had urged them to reconsider, giving them a few pointers to help, they did go and had loved it too. by now David had brought WaL along and the wind up lift bridge was still down plus I hadn't remembered to pick up the windlass.

We found the weather and winds are much better in the evenings.

The maize getting much taller all of a sudden.

We did the last few locks towards the junction in the evening as the weather forecast was another bad one for the following day.  Lovely evening. 

We departed from just before Swanley Marina at dawn the next day.  Rain was due mid morning and we wanted to be in Nantwich to ensure good-ish signal for the Men's Singles Final.   We are getting well practiced at being as silent as we could be past moored boats.
David topped up with water while I went forward to fill the locks, but my heart sank as the pound below the top lock was very very down.  I set the paddles to move water down wondering just how long it would take to do this.  I walked down and the second pound was worse, so opened those paddles too.  The third pound looked okay so I walked back up to the top, David was approaching, but so was the very nice man who lives in the cottage here.  He has the Cheshire Cat Hire Boats, I've chatted to him a couple of times both here at at Overwater where the boats are moored.  

He advised me that yes the state of the pounds is entirely normal and the other day some boaters had left paddles up overnight resulting in all the pounds were empty. 
Gawd almighty.

The canal or some of it flows into the Hurleston Reservoir right here. 

The lovely cottage where the nice helpful man lives.  I feared waking him with all the cranking but he is an early riser.  (I don't know about his wife though)

Refilling the top pound. 

I took this after I had let a lot in, it was much lower.

Finally through, David has turned south onto the Shropshire Union canal and we are headed for Nantwich.

Well due to the delays playing with water we arrived late and moored late..... at about 10am.  It was raining by then.

Well the very best result, with Mr Djokovic making way for the new blood.  A terrific win for the young Spaniard.  We were exhausted afterwards but to get to Overwater in time for the morning we moved after the match, at 19:30.  We got more than halfway to Overwater that night and popped her in the following morning at 8am where she is being blacked while we are at home.

To be perfectly honest even though I'd packed and prepared the day before yes we were late leaving, we loaded the bags in the rain just for a change.  I had the worst case of boat hair in a long time.

Home for a fortnight, see you all soon.  

Thursday 27 July 2023

Anyone for marriage guidance?

Well the expected rain that was forecast yesterday afternoon didn't materialise afterall.  The wind remained strong though and we had a good many of whrumps on the ropes as boats passed us.  David took his beer onto the stern deck to enjoy the peace, I didn't as the air was thick with midges and I can still feel them nibbling me just looking at the photo.  
Nice sky though. 

This morning the air was blue as the mooring "Nappy pins" had become stuck fast, the back rope pin had slipped through the position into the next this was as a direct result of the boats passing us at speed.  I really think for the most part the hirers are oblivious, but when twenty or more boats are doing the same it can only damage the armco and cause a man to be aeriated.

Off we went some time later.  Drizzle in the air which plays havoc with my hair and has a bad effect on glasses too.

The boat that passed us a while ago was just leaving the first lock of the two here.  I thought they must have stopped for water but no.  They were a couple from Florida with two small children, one of whom was strapped to the fathers front in a sling.  The boat coming into the lock told me that it was their first ever lock (Their hire base is too far away from any locks to be shown how to operate one, I guess a video hadn't helped) so the lady on the boat coming up the lock had taught them.  

A bit frightening to my mind, two tiny children, water plus parents who haven't really got a grip on things.  But there you are, free choice again.

We made a nice amount of progress, plenty of boats passing us but we didn't catch up with any.

It got towards 1:30pm and I was wanting to be thinking about mooring up for the afternoons tennis.

Now answer me this any women reading this, if you are a passenger and your nearest and dearest is driving, you ask to stop at the next loo, you see one, point it out, What?  says the driver, oh sorry we've gone past it now.  
Mooring up with David is just like that.
Can we get in?  Is it shallow?  The hedge is too tall, We'll lose the sun early What there...?
Oh too late, Oh we would have got in... Lets go on.

Not at all annoying.
It was a bit like that today.

Very pretty countryside all along the way.  No good here, overhanging trees...

Boats queueing to go down to the Montgomery canal, we had thought of going down but in the end not enough time and David wasn't frightfully keen.

Well eventually as we passed by two moored boats I called out did they have good 4G?  Yes not bad he said, so we pulled in in front of them. The two boats were friends travelling together.
But it became apparent that one couple off of the boat furthest away from us had had a big row that morning.  As we sat out enjoying the warmth she detailed the row in a clearly audible voice to the crew of the boat in the middle.  
Then a generator started up at the furthest point of the furthest boat.  
We inwardly groaned, the wife said Oh he'll have that going all afternoon now, (it was something to do with his home brewing).  So as you can see we put our chairs way past WaL's bow and it wasn't too bad.  
Then it went off.  Great.

I was cooking supper when there was a tap on the kitchen side hatch.  It was the man who wanted to do his brewing.  I would say that the pair of them had had a further row about the generator, as he asked me if I had any objections to him having the generator on for 90 minutes, because if you do I just won't put it on.  Well Reader frankly it was said with a deal of passive aggression.  He completely caught me on the hop and I could only reply that well yes I guess, but not past 8pm.
Oh no he said absolutely not.

Well it went on and didn't we know it!  It turned out that his generator had broken and this one had been lent to him by the other boater, it was the most ghastly tinny loud din, this second man came and apologised for the noise, he said he'd felt sorry for him.  The bloody thing was on for way over 2.5 hours.
Next time I will just say what I think....

It was a very pleasant mooring, south facing, good solar, hardly any walkers.

The sky blackened.... again.

This went on some time.  But dry at Wimbledon.

Supper was sausages and salads.

Wednesday 26 July 2023

Just hold the rope, don't scream, then get on yer bike

 It's horrible when a really good holiday comes to an end, that's completely how I felt this morning.  Yes obviously we played the Llangollen canal game of leaving early, I think it was 6am, not much past anyway.  

The reason is to whip through the narrow sections between the basin and Trevor, Trevor is the first village you come to, its a hire base there but we'll be way too early for the base to be open, then do the murderous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct without any hindrance, we've heard tales of boats queueing up both sides waiting for the chance to get across, then lastly to get past the slightly narrow but bendy section around Froncysyllte which curiously liveaboards chose to moor and presumably get hit by any inexperienced hirer passing, but that's free choice for you.

On this canal there are so many hirer boats on the move constantly from anyone of five bases on this canal but also other bases within striking distance on other canals.

Back to leaving.
I had my bike out this time.  My job was to stand on the short, wobbly pontoon, not to scream, hold WaL's bow rope as D reversed to aid him in not knocking the two boats either side at this hour, at the last moment throw on the rope, get the glass recycling, zip to the bins, then whizz to the first bridge to get photos for your pleasure Reader then scoot down the canal with phone to hand and report any boats coming.  

I would have been shocked should there have been any but anyway.

Short but wobbly pontoon, no noise, no voices just gestures, some of them rude.

These are the horse drawn trip boats that go up from here to Horseshoe Falls, then the horse is turned from the front to the rear of the boat and it returns.  The horses are walked up the hill to different accommodation overnight. 

These are the buildings with the nice cafe, elevated from the town with nice coffee and food.

And there he goes into the first of the narrows.  Is it true that two boats met along here, both refused to reverse and the were wedged for a day?  A great story if not.

The white posts on the right show a passing place in the narrow section.

The river Dee way down below, I was waiting on the towpath for David to arrive.  So sorry to be leaving. 

The junction appeared, I was on the bow looking for other boats, all clear and we eased through the junction, but it's an exposed site and the wind took the bow and WaL refused to turn right, so I took the plunge and jumped off the bow with the rope and pulled her around.  I must say that my days of jumping off a raised boat without the man I love to catch me are numbered, my knees think so too. 

Just for a change I stayed on the towpath and walked between WaL and the barrier.  I felt much better but poor David who does not appreciate heights was left alone.  But if you look you can see him straining to be as far as he can on the port side of WaL (left) to be away from the sheer drop. 

I felt much better walking.

Nothing coming, although the first boat we passed wasn't very far away at all.

Sun hat removed as it was a bit blowy.

I felt a bit sick taking this shot.  I hope you appreciate the lengths I go to for you Reader.

Yikes I didn't like being left behind either, those railings look very flimsy to me.

No dog walkers today, the cratch cover was firmly zipped down today.

Very lovely but the access is on the canal again, at least there is a grass verge.

Goodbye Chirk aqueduct.  A nice day now.


One last shot of the Llangollen valley in sunshine and blue skies, these skies were to be a bit of a premium in the week coming.... 

There was rain forecast later in the day.  Another reason for the early start.  Wimbledon had started and we are tennis fans.  One teeny weeny fault with the Llangollen canal is the lack of 4G.  But back at the long straight there was some signal. 
Some, so we were aiming for there.

We had begun to meet boats immediately after the Ponty-wot-not aqueduct as they were returning to their bases at the end of their holidays, we followed a really slow one for a mile and luckily he turned into the next base.
On reaching our intended mooring the sky was quite cloudy by now and the wind much stronger, it moored us up nicely blowing us firmly against the armco, but the boat following us was blown against the opposite bank, I think due to a bend, he had a lot of trouble getting off again and reversed out of sight and when he returned was going much faster to pass us safely.

We had noticed last time here that the hire boats are not slowing down, both days the wind was strong, I think they are either spooked or forget to go slower and to give a bit more space between moored boats as our ropes get a heck of a wrench, once is kinda okay but twenty boats have repercussions.
Well we moored and watched the matches.

Supper much later on was baked feta and tomatoes.  Not sure how exactly but I had three packs of feta onboard, (Another reason I'm not allowed shopping) 

Nice way to show support for Ukraine.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Can't wait to come again.

 Well without going into all the details we had the most lovely time in Llangollen, in the evenings we were serenaded by the concerts playing and in the day time we did the touristy things.  We went on the train up to Corwen, the terminus of the railway.  behind us sat a very Welsh sounding lady and her very English sounding daughter, she pronounced all the unpronounceable station names for us to listen to, then as we walked over the way to the town centre there was a zonking great statue of the man I had just read the first of a trilogy about, Owain Glyndwr.  Nice to put a face to a name, he was declared the Prince of Wales in 1400, the Welsh were not best pleased with the English back then.

We cycled up to Horseshoe Falls.  That is the very place where the River Dee is sidetracked off to start the canal.  Obviously  there the river and canal are at the same height but within minutes the river is way below the canal.  Further on by footpath is a charming wee church of Llantysilio.

We drank very good coffee from the cafe at the Basin, it has a charming terrace overlooking the town and rooftops, suddenly the sound of beating drums was heard as the Indian team for the Festival or Eisteddfod were doing their turn at demonstrating in the town small square.  There were several venues across the town so good access for all.

We walked up to Plas Newydd, I'd wanted to go there last time but then I was under the impression it was miles out of town, but it isn't.
The Ladies of Llangollen as they became known as, were two high born Irish ladies who hated their world and "Eloped" together to Wales, they scandalized society and lived very happily for over fifty years in Llangollen.  As time went on they enjoyed visits from Shelly, Wellington, Wordsworth and Byron were visitors plus a one Ms Anne Lister, watchers of the BBC might recognise that name form the production of Gentleman Jack.

On the day we visited there was a exhibition of the costumes from the TV series on display in the house.

From the grounds at Plas Newynn you can see Castell Dinas Bran, David fancied walking up it but in the end we ran out of time.

Photos below;

The River Dee, this taken from the pub The Corn Mill, it eventually flows though Chester.

The Steam Railway Station opposite the pub.

Downstream from the pub, if you spy behind the three story red brick houses you can see the canal buildings and cafe with its nice views over the town.  In the 1.8 miles since Horseshoe Falls you can see how much the river is below the canal height.

It's annoying when the photos load in the wrong order, but here below is the very beginning of the canal.  Horseshoe Falls are man made, the water is so clear here too.  It runs under what I presume is a pump house.  No boats can come up this far, or indeed from the basin, that is accepting a horse drawn narrow boat,  but today children were having a right hoot in kayaks on an organised school trip. 

A portion of the river is sidetracked exactly here, under that building and down a concrete lined channel that is eventually is the canal.

Horseshoe Falls, the river was exceptionally low this time due to the lack of rain they've had this way.

The lovely Llantysilio Church, first built in C15th, rebuilt and restored but there is still some original brickwork to be seen from that first build.  Robert Browning visited too.

Another view of the water intake to the canal.

Under the pump house.

The view of Llangollen from the canal cafe

View from the train of the Chain Bridge Hotel, we'd sat on their terrace in the sun gazing at a Dipper feeding on the exposed rocks. 

View of the bridge at the hotel form the train.

Welsh lady in the seat behind could pronounce this name.  Its the name of the land held by Owain Glyndwr way back in the C15th where he was proclaimed Prince of Wales.  Perhaps he worshipped at Llantysilio Church, its not far away. 

Sadly today the steam train wasn't available so we went on the diseasel.

I love these old railway promotional posters, this one represents the Chirk and the
Ponty wot-not aqueducts and the lovely stone bridge in Llangollen.

Can you see why crossing this gives me the screaming ab-dabs?  Nice picture though.

So the very smart lady sitting on top of my head saw me trying to get a selfie with David and INSISTED her husband helped, so he got on a chair and took a bunch then she insisted that he got on a different chair to get a shot of the river behind us.  I was very pleased with his work, so in praise of him you can see them too.

Hard to believe it now but we needed sunglasses and sun hats, had it of been earlier in the day I would have needed shade.

The river here over the rocks is mesmerising. 

I was all up for doing this type of boating but David wasn't really.

Looked great fun and no one died.

Thank you sir, a very nice photo of us.

Plas Newydd, this is the home the Ladies of Llangollen created and lived at for over fifty years. 
Right above it is Castell Dinas Bran

This was taken from the same spot as the one before but with my zoom.  

The last thing we saw was the parade of all the countries taking part.  Numbers are still down after Covid, but it was still great to see.

Greek dancers were very energetic.

I didn't identify this country as they didn't have a flag .

But she was amazing.

I'm thinking Trinidad


India, the drumming as fabulous.


If I'm not mistaken Kurdistan.

Ireland, I think they have a hair policy, all had shoulder length and straight.

Canada, not in national dress but very friendly and loud.

So that is our trip done.  We just loved it and I want to come again next year.