Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Finally, Llangollen.

Referring back to the problems we were having with the Eco-fan, basically it was on a go slow when it went at all, so we decided to test their refurbishment service and yesterday we moored just by The Poachers Pocket and walked up to Calfire at their base at Gledrid, it's easy to find, just opposite the Lord Moreton pub/hotel complex.

We took the fan in at 1100 and were told it would be ready by next day at the latest. At 1500 they rang us, it was ready for collection! It had been tested, the motor had been found to be defective and had been replaced. It cost sixteen pounds and came with a years warranty and it is now whirring away atop the stove like a new one. You can't beat that for service.
This morning it was time for the final leg to Llangollen so at 0900 we were on our way with two tunnels and three aqueducts to negotiate. You wouldn't even notice the third aqueduct if you didn't know it was there, it's about halfway between Whitehouse tunnel and Fron lift bridge.

First comes Chirk aqueduct with the tunnel at rhe far end and the splendid

railway viaduct running alongside.
Once through the tunnel there is some major towpath rebuilding going on.

Well it was time for tea break.
It's not too long before the big one comes into sight across the valley.


It's a long way down to the River Dee and as I get vertigo just wearing Cuban heeled boots I really don't enjoy the crossing that much.

It's going to be crowded up here once the holiday season starts and this lot come out!
From here, Trevor, it's a sharp turn under a bridge

and up the narrow, shallow, fast flowing and winding section up to Llangollen, certainly gives the engine a work out, pushing against the current. Not my favourite length of canal.

The end of the line, it's not exactly crowded up here at the moment.

Watch this space..........

Sunday, 26 February 2012

We discover Ifton mine and Stans.*

Congratulations Wales, well done England, I think that disallowed try in the final seconds will be a subject of dispute for a long time to come. Personally, much as I hate to say it, I think the decision was correct, the ball was not grounded correctly, curses.
We're moored just above the New Marton locks and a fellow boater told us there is a supermarket just over the hill from the canal so we set off to investigate, not that we needed any thing from the shop, just out of curiosity.
At the down stream end of the forty eight hour moorings is a bridge over a ditch.

 You bear left across the field,

climbing this stile appears to be optional, carry on to the hedgerow and after crossing a small stream on another bridge and a bit of ducking and weaving over, or under, an inconvenient fence you follow the worn track up the hill, encountering two more stiles,

 and eventually come into the village of St. Martins right by the old pinfold.

Originally used to impound straying farm animals, the owner then had to pay a fine to reclaim them, I suppose the modern equivalent would be car clamping.
Passing St. Martins church (locked),

through a rather boring housing estate you come to a mini-roundabout next to

a memorial to the Ifton miners. Up until 1968 there was a major coal mine here.
Leaving the past, just across the road is

Stans* Superstore and super it is. Huge, immaculately clean and the shelf stacking would be an object lesson to the major supermarket chains. It also has a cafe, coffee walnut cake, there goes the diet.
We returned via the road and the towpath, it's a bit of a drag, about a forty minute walk, but provisions plus exercise?

* N.B. the apostrophe is deliberately missing from Stans as that is how it is displayed on the store.

Watch this space............

Friday, 24 February 2012

Hearing regained and we travel on.

At long last, a final visit to the quacks at Ellesmere and a lovely lady nurse stuffed what felt like a power washer and sounded like a jack hammer down my ears and now the inside of my dainty shell likes are as clean and pure as the virgin snow.

For anyone who's a bit confused this is a picture of virgin snow, not the interior of my ears. Mind you I did feel it was a little unkind of the nurse to say that as she looked in one ear she could see the light shining down the other. But that matters not, after six weeks of deafness I can now hear again. I must have a word with Jill, she seems to have turned the radio and t.v. up way too loud and the birds are singing very loud all of a sudden.

Last week end we copped a little snow, first we've had so far this year. Marmite was not impressed, she feels her place to be in front of the stove, not dragged out into the cold and made to hang about while the I take photo's. Poor old mutt, she's showing her age, she struggles getting on and off the boat these days.
Having finally resumed our travels we had a couple of days near Welsh Frankton, Wednesday it blew a gale and chucked it down all day but yesterday was a total contrast so off we went for a walk.

The Welsh hills were in view to the west

lambs were gambolling in the fields whilst on the towpath

the golden stars of celandine were shining in the grass.
In the nineteenth century the demise of the canals was forecast when the railways arrived,

well here is the railway bridge over the canal near Hindford, which lasted the longer, canal or railway? Now if we can just get rid of the motorways.........

Could the black hole in the bridge be troldhaugen? Were the billy goats gruff about to go trip-trap trip-trap over the rickety bridge? To be greeted with a cry of "I'm a troll folderoll". Just a touch of whimsy there for those who appreciate that sort of thing.

The most interesting feature of the bridge was the coping stones, unusually they appear to be glazed pottery/brick. I can't recall seeing anything like them elsewhere.
Today we moved up to just above the New Marton locks.

The by-wash on the top lock has this pretty little bridge over it instead of the usual concrete slab, cute isn't it.
This weekend it's six nations with England v Wales the highlight, with our inexperienced fifteen I have a feeling that we may be on the losing end.

Watch this space.............

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Salsicce coperte di pastella e cotte nel forno.

Chucking it down at Ellesmere, why can't it go and rain over the east of the country? There is enough water here but they're getting desperate over there. We had planned heading for the Middle Levels this summer but looking at the water levels we're heading elsewhere, no decision yet but one thing's for sure, it won't be London, have you seen how much it will cost to moor?
Jill had a brilliant idea yesterday, she had bought some Italian meatballs in Tescos and still had some in the freezer compartment so last night we had

salsicce coperte di pastella e cotte nel forno. Italian for toad in the hole although I stand open to correction.
I suspect though that the Italians would serve it differently.

It did not help my weight loss programme but by 'eck it tasted good.

Watch this space...........

Friday, 17 February 2012

Short trip to wind.

I appreciate that it's not a wonderful picture, taken in a hurry with a hedge in the way, but these are the first lambs we've seen this year. We always reckon spring is here when the lambs start to arrive. With the change to warm weather it is starting to almost feel like it.
We were on our way to Frankton Junction to wind as we have to be back in Ellesmere for Monday.

Just to prove we were there,

we took a couple of photo's. We intend "doing" the Montgomery canal on our way back from Llangollen, if we ever get there! The residents in the house just before the junction seem to have a sense of humour,

this sits on the mooring at the end of their garden, it amused me anyway.

Another van with the new C.A.R.T. logo, I wonder how much each van costs to repaint?

Is Captain Caveman still alive and well? Or could it be that a very short hippie has taken up residence on the towpath?
Why is it that you never meet a boat coming the other way on the wide, straight lengths? This was a rather nervous hirer who crept oh so slooowwly through he bridge while I tried to keep out of the way with the Llangollen current trying to push me forward, we both eventually made it without mishap. We were all learners once.

Anyone need a couple of heavy duty fenders?
Now it's back to the snooker, O'Sullivan v. Judd Trump, should be a stormer.

Watch this space............

Thursday, 16 February 2012

We have left Ellesmere.

Yesterday was the big day, on waking there was not a trace of ice anywhere so we made our escape from the arm, went for a pump out and a canister of gas at the boatyard and then round to the waterpoint for a top up; much easier than dragging the water round to the boat.

Definitely one of the more civilised waterpoints, four taps and a nice covering roof on the outside of the covered dry dock. This is the old company yard of the Ellesmere canal.

It must once have been a scene of busy industry as boats were repaired, lock gates built and all the myriad jobs concerned with maintaining a working canal went on, now it seems to be a car park and a place to have a tea break. At least the buildings are still there and in good repair. The most impressive building is Beech House,

once the headquarters of the canal company, now split up into apartments, but it still dominates the junction.
We are now a couple of miles up the cut and enjoying being back in the country, more important, we have discovered the Welsh Open Snooker Championship on BBC2 Wales, at the moment Ronnie O' Sullivan is playing Mark Williams in the quarter finals; at the moment O'Sullivan is two frames to one up so I'm off to watch the rest of the match.

Watch this space..........

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentine's Day.

Actually the day is entirely irrelevant. The ice has been thawing quite well today, plan A was to move out of here tomorrow, this depended on a clear run so we watched the ice carefully and then Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!

 under the footbridge at the end of the arm a Canal Time boat appeared. (Actually I think the company name has changed but to us they will always be Canal Time, aarrgh!). It pushed its way up to the end of the arm where, despite the ice, it succeeded in winding.

It then bashed its way back down the arm to the main line.

 As they passed the chap explained that he had turned the wrong way at the junction, the ice is now all nicely broken up ready for the morning getaway.
Whilst browsing in Tescos we decided to indulge in one of their meal deals, main course, one veg. and a dessert plus a bottle of plonk for fifteen quid (normally a tenner but it's Valentines day). We had lamb shanks and a bottle of rose. The dessert was worrying me,

 for some reason the letters P.I.P. keep coming into my mind.

Watch this space................

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Duty done.

We have done our democratic duty and voted for our representatives on the C.A.R.T. council. We stuck to the basic principle that if they had a list of other good works they were involved with they would be too busy to give their full attention to the council. If they held positions on other waterways organisations then they would have their own agenda rather than represent all boaters and if they sounded too pompous they were out. We eventually came up with a list of names that we felt we could live with and duly voted on line. The actual process was amazingly simple, even for us.
Remember that if you don't vote you have no right to complain about them when they cock it up.

Just a couple of pictures of some rather nice half timbered buildings in Ellesmere

and this is the old town hall, it's now a bistro. The building on the far right is not at a thirty degree angle from the vertical, it's just an aberration of the lens.

Watch this space............

Friday, 10 February 2012

Still at Ellesmere.

Getting bored now, come on Met. Office, get a thaw organised. Jill is up the launderette, I've checked the level in the starter battery, just got the water run to do and I can relax. Alright, if I relax anymore I'll be horizontal but why be on a boat and get stressed?
One thing about the freezing weather

is the amazing sunrises. Not this morning though, cold, grey and damp, stepped off the boat and my feet shot in different directions, the path was a sheet of ice.
Ellesmere is a pleasant little town, now that Tescos have settled on the wharf you have everything you need, Vermeulans delicatessen is not to be missed, cheese, bread, cakes, olives, the list goes on. trouble is everytime I go in I somehow acquire a cake and as Jill has me on a diet..........!

We treated ourselves to lunch here, (I know it doesn't fit the diet but what's life without a bit of guilt?) the steak and kidney pie was superb although, unless you are Desperate Dan, only have the small portion. Limited real ales but the Marstons Bitter was good.
Racking my brains for something else to add, no, sorry, still bored.

Watch this space.............