Thursday, 29 March 2012

Guess who's back at Ellesmere.

On the way back up Frankton Locks

and Jill is working well, she is a dab hand at this locking lark.
This was once a pub beside the locks but is now a des. res. In the towpath wall in front of it is an odd gap in the wall, I had wondered about it in my usual vague way but the chance gift of a book about the industrial archeology of the Montgomery Canal revealed what it was.

If you look carefully you can see an iron arch above the gap, once intended to prevent the towing line of the horse boats snagging on the brickwork, and the gap? Originally it was a set of steps leading from the canal to the pub, obvious really. I assume that the skipper would nip up the pub while the wife and kids worked the boat up the locks, good scheme.

Now up the town arm again and this afternoon we had a rather grand buzzard as a neighbour.

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

Monday, 26 March 2012

Our Montgomery idyll is over.

Tomorrow is back to reality, the last couple of weeks have passed like a dream. If we have seen one boat in a day it has seemed busy, the weather has been brilliant and the countryside unequaled. Up the locks and back onto the Llangollen.
So today we sat on the bank at Aston Locks, Jill did her cross stitch and played with the camera and for me, out with the pole and after the fish.

Jill did well with the local bird life, just one of half a dozen buzzards that have been delighting us with their aerobatics and on a smaller scale,

she got this one of a blue-tit. Busy time for birds.

Another pretty little rudd, this canal is well stocked with them, with their brassy colour and bright red fins and eyes they are lovely looking fish.
Family visit next week so for now it will be back to Ellesmere for victuals and await the arrival of daughter and grandsprogs.

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

Friday, 23 March 2012

St. Winifred and some other stuff.

After a most pleasing meal in The Navigation at Maesbury last night, expensive but decidedly tasty, we finally made the effort and started heading back up the Monty. When I 'phoned to book our passage through Frankton locks next Tuesday a rather officious lady at the Northwich office told me we should have been off yesterday as you are apparently only allowed fourteen days down here. When I asked her where it was laid down that there was a time limit she was baffled, having explored Waterscape I can find no mention, in fact nobody seems to know. A promised call back from her supervisor failed to materialise so I can only surmise that he doesn't know either. I dare say the lockie at Frankton will have an idea.
Yesterday was walking time so we pulled on our boots and set off. Personally I prefer fishing but anything for a quiet life.

Down the lane behind the moorings there is a ford through the Morda Brook, they have had the decency to provide a bridge for those not encumbered with mechanised transport. The brook has played an important part in local history. It once supplied the power to Peates Mill, the last users of canal transport on the Monty. Further up the lane the old mill pond is still in water.

The old sluices that controlled the flow are also there.

Needless to say the mill has long been mechanised.
As a lover of the odd I found the church to be the most interesting building in the village.

Corrugated iron, according to the local tale it was built in 1906 from a kit of parts supplied by Harrods. Flat pack church, let's see Ikea equal that. Just down the road is an equally quirky dwelling.

Was it once a scout hut? Could have been.
We then meandered over towards St. Winifreds well. I've already done the one that goes "I didn't know she'd been ill." so don't bother.

She was a seventh century Welsh princess devoted to a life of chastity and prayer who, after having her head lopped off by a rejected suitor, was brought back to life by St. Bueno. This all happened at Holywell in Flintshire. Many years later her bones were taken to Shrewsbury Abbey to create a place of pilgrimage, always profitable, a shrine. Anyway, her bones rested here one night and lo! A spring appeared which also became a site of pilgrimage, the waters curing all sorts of maladies.

The half timbered building is the original medieval chapel, now a holiday let. That's Jill there, not Winifred.

The original medieval well is under the chapel and is still visited by the devout as can be seen

by the offerings in the recess above the well. I would guess that before the reformation it would have held a statue of the saint. A fascinating survival. Incidently, according to Ellis Peters, Brother Cadfael was one of the escort for the saints bones.

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

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

But seriously.

A warning about carbon monoxide:-
Our normal routine after raking the stove out is to empty the ash pan into a galvanised bucket that spends its life in the front well under the cratch cover. When cooled the ash is disposed of in a proper manner. Yesterday evening our carbon monoxide alarm suddenly shattered the peace. The only source could be the stove so I made a careful examination of every part, door seals were ok, no cracks in the flue pipe, I even shoved my patent chimney scraper down the pipe to make sure it wasn't obstructed, all seemed fine but still the CO level in the cabin was way up. I decided that the fire would have to go, shovel the hot coals out into the bucket and dump them in the cut was plan A. When I picked the bucket up I realised it was somewhat warm, bells started ringing in what passes for my brain and I promptly poured the ash into the water, not something I would normally do but this seemed a bit urgent, in the middle of the ash was a lovely little layer of burning. What must of happened was that as I raked the stove some unburnt coal dust had also gone into the ash pan and continued to smolder, no outward sign of combustion just an insidious release of CO. The level soon returned to normal and all was well. Without the alarm it could have been a whole different story, so watch your hot ash and get an alarm!!!

Yesterday I took a few hours off from my busy schedule and gave my new(ish) pole a gallop. A round two dozen roach and rudd, all taken on bread. That's not the biggest one, Jill has just said I mustn't lie so that was about the biggest. It was still a pleasant few hours.
Today we set off along the unrestored section for a nose at what is going on. This is the end of the navigable section,

it is in water for several hundred yards beyond the bridge but is not yet open to boats. There is even a lift bridge over it

and the people in this water side house really deserve an award for optimism,

they have a mooring, all set for when the boats are allowed through. The watered section ends here, at bridge 83. By bridge 84 the restorers have been busy, using a waterproof membrane

that is reinforced and held down by concrete blocks.

At Crickheath there is a fine length of rebuilt wharf wall. From here on very little, apart from tree and scrub clearance, has been done and the canal bed is dry.

Just before you get to Pant there is what I presume will one day be the winding hole,
This is bridge 88,
the small arch to the right used to have an industrial tramway running through it, it brought the limestone down from the quarries to the lime kilns at Pant. Just beyond here the restoration peters out
and it's a bit overgrown so we turned back and headed home. Three years ago, when we were last here, it was like this all the way from bridge 84 so they're getting on with the restoration, but I have a feeling that it won't be open in time for Armadillo to make the trip, at least not under the current management.

Then I started playing with the camera, ladybirds just coming out of hibernation and at last
a decent clump of primroses and
violets. I had the DSLR camera today, it does give a better photo' than the compact.

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

Monday, 19 March 2012

Over the weekend.

Quiet weekend really. Saturday morning we strolled down to one of the off line pools that are supposed to enable the water weed to survive the onslaught of boats daring to use a canal. Canals were designed for boats weren't they? Silly of me, I should have realised that those 18thC. entrepreneurs wanted to create a linear nature reserve.

Actually the pools are quite attractive even at this time of year before the flora and fauna get into full swing.

This pool has been claimed by a pair of swans who are busily constructing a nest on the island,

as well as spending some time courting, in spring a young swans fancy ..............!

The early violets were blooming alongside the towpath and there are now primroses in profusion.
Sunday morning I peered out the side hatch and, beside what appears to be a herd of yetis that have come down to drink, there in the canal was a reflection of a rainbow. I couldn't get rainbow and reflection in the same picture so

here's the rainbow. "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore".

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

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Oswestry, a town in the Marches.

Let's start with something astronomical, Jupiter and Venus in close proximity last night.

Not bad when you consider it was taken with a Canon Power Shot SX210, not exactly a huge camera, perhaps a more powerful flash?
This morning we set off for Oswestry, once again having to run the gauntlet of the feathered assassins on the towpath. Emboldened by the fact that Jill did not have her poles with her they had another go at us, I ended up beating them off with my hat, damn things.
A pleasant border town, Oswestry.
I'm not a sculpture aficianado but I rather liked this one in the town, it's entitled "The Border Farmer"

 Much preferable to stones with holes in or piles of scrap metal in the name of art. Yes, I'm a fully payed up Philistine.
In the centre of town is the old town cross, actually it's a Victorian drinking fountain,

you can't have public drinking fountains now, health and safety they say.
 There's a fine mix of building periods and styles around the town,

The Llywn Mansion is one of the older buildings, it now houses a Toni & Guy hairdressers on the ground floor. Even older is the original school,

founded in 1407, now the tourist information centre. Oldest of all though must be the castle,

built, probably in the 11th C. to protect the local English against the maraudering Welsh and at other times, when the said marauders had captured it, it was used to protect the local Welsh against the maraudering English, that was how it went in the Welsh Marches. In the middle ages the town, church and castle were burnt down by one lot or the other with monotonous regularity until Cromwell took umbrage because the Royalists had been using it and knocked the castle flat, saying "That'll larn 'em." (I made that bit up, he didn't really say that).

View from the top of the castle motte, market in the foreground and Sainsburys middle centre.
At the bottom of the motte is the town hall, my favourite building in the town,

the architect certainly let loose on that one, I wonder what he was smoking when he designed that. Across from the town hall is The Red Lion.

It seems that originally the town stocks, pillory and whipping post were in front of the pub, well we all like a bit of entertainment while we're supping our ale and they didn't have Sky Sport in those days.
The church, dedicated to St. Oswald, is a bit of a mish-mash as everyone seems to have knocked it about over the years but it does have a most imposing tower, the lower part of which is Norman.

Inside though they didn't seem to be able to quite line it up when they did one of the rebuilds.

Odd layout, just didn't quite line up.

Lords prayer, ten commandments and the creed and a right fearsome pair keeping an eye on them, you wouldn't want to sin with them watching.

This lady sounds like a bundle of laughs, if you can't make her name out it's Grizzel Lloyd.
I took many more piccies but just can't fit them all in, I'm afraid I just get too self indulgent so I will restrain myself tonight.

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