Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Llangollen to Ellesmere

This afternoon we arrived back in Ellesmere after a very pleasant trip up to Llangollen.

We stayed in the basin for a couple of days, most of Wednesday was taken up with visits from Wilson's & an engine service. We usually do our own basic servicing ie oil & filter changes but decided to have a professional job done with winter on the horizon.  The engine has developed an annoying  vibration on low revs & we hadn't found an obvious cause (but being the novices we are that's not surprising!)   The RCR engineer spotted a small fuel leak which had been dripping onto one of  the rubber dampers under the engine mounts causing it to perish, resulting in the vibration. So he has sorted the leak & we are checking out getting the mount  fixed. 

After 2 nights putting up with the road noise at the 48hr moorings at the Sun Inn we had been looking forward to some peace & quite in the basin in Llangollen & it is great, it's got shore power & water to all pontoons & the setting is beautiful BUT it also has some very noisy nocturnal ducks, who seem to get their kicks splashing  & squawking in the early hours resulting in disturbed sleep & being shattered on Thursday, too shattered to contemplate the climb up to Castell Dinas Bran.

Llangollen Basin looking like a Black Prince depot, Poppy is tucked away in the back corner.

On Friday we headed back out of Llangollen & back to the Sun Inn moorings, I needed to get to Chester on Saturday to meet Eric, who has joined us for half term, & it's got a handy bus stop just across the road. So 2 more noisy days but at least the traffic quietens down during the night meaning we managed enough sleep to be able to manage the climb up to the Castell & it was well worth the effort....

Up at the top, finally...

 Looking towards the Pontcysyllte aqueduct in the distance, the canal is the 'white' stripe in the centre foreground
heading back down towards Llangollen & afternoon tea.

Sunday dawned bright & very cold after a sharp frost, we got off at 8am & after a couple of stops, one for coal from Chirk Marina, another near Chirk tunnel for lunch & a nip to the Spar for the paper, we moored up just past the bridge at St Martins Moor.

It  was another cold night ( a good job we'd stocked up with coal) with yesterday dawning sunny & frosty. We decided to stay put for the day to enjoy the peace & quiet, Mark & Eric did some wood chopping in the morning & in the afternoon Eric & I decided to get some exercise.
We walked across the fields up towards the village  keeping an eye out for a shop as Mark had requested 'treats',  heading towards a garage we'd spotted, we rounded a corner & came across Stan's Superstore   So we returned to  Poppy with treats aplenty...

This morning we were off by 8am & even though it  was pouring down there were plenty of boats already on the move, once through Marton locks Eric & I left Mark to it & headed indoors, no point in us all getting soaked. We arrived in Ellesmere at 11am & found a place on  the 72 hour moorings opposite the services which were very busy, we realised later that we had got one of the last vacant spots. Nb Bendigedig,  who we passed at Frankton junction this morning but didn't get chance to say hello as I was down below sheltering from the rain, has an accurate description of Ellesmere at half term! 
We are now fully stocked after a trip to Tesco & the plan is to get on the service point early tomorrow then head out to find  countryside mooring.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Ellesmere to Llangollen

This could be another long post as it's over a week since the last one. When we started cruising back in May I did intend to post more frequently, thinking that I would sit down at the end of the day & relay the days events including the bits & bobs that punctuate the day, like the incident a couple of weeks ago when the woman who, despite her partner/crew member  waving us through one of the lift bridges at Wrenbury decided she should still get through before us, scraped along our side & then sarcastically commented  "he should have asked the captain 1st" !!  

So updating seems to have settled into a weekly event although I probably would have posted at the weekend but we had no phone or Internet signal, fortunately we still had TV that would have been a step too far!!

Anyway, back to last week, we left Ellesmere at 8am on a cold & damp Thursday morning, 

having 1st used the service point.

We spent one night at Chirk Bank & on Friday it was another early start ready for the aqueduct & tunnels & by 9am (!!) we were moored up just after bridge 27 on the 48hr spot.

Chirk Tunnel

We decided to take a walk over the Pontcysyllte aqueduct to Trevor to stretch our legs, maybe find somewhere for a spot of lunch & if we could get a paper that would be a bonus.
 Hmm, well of course the countryside is fabulous & the aqueduct breathtaking, but we found Trevor a grim, depressing  place & didn't manage to find anywhere for lunch ( I made do with a bag of chips from a chippie) or a paper. 

So on Saturday I walked the 3 miles back along the towpath to Chirk,  which a great little town & managed to get the Guardian for the local Spar. Two towns only a few miles apart yet so very different.

Sunday & another walk to Chirk for a few essentials from the Spar then a lazy afternoon.

Which brings us to yesterday, up & off by 7.15 am, a quick stop at the water point & then it was onto the aqueduct,  Mark hates heights & wasn't sure he'd be okay ( said he may be laid flat on the floor inside!) but he was fine - so long as he didn't look left... 
View of the River Dee from the aqueduct

Lots of hire boats in Trevor basin before the sharp left turn to Llangollen.

Once round this corner the scenery gets seriously beautiful & the hills you saw in the distance a few days ago are on all sides.  As it got narrower & windier I walked ahead to spot oncomers,

the lovely Plas Isaf Bridge

But we were lucky, it was quiet (a benefit of an early start!) & we were settled on the 48 hr moorings opposite the Sun Trevor pub by 9.30 am. Once we'd got sorted we walked into Llangollen, inspected the moorings, very nice, had a potter round the town & had lunch. 

 view  down the valley towards Llangollen from the towpath

rock 'wall', no wonder the canal is only narrow here, this cutting would have been done by navvies with no power tools.

Looking up towards Castell Dinas Bran, we were going to have a walk up there this afternoon but we have had showers all morning, some quite heavy so hence me doing the blog instead.

Tomorrow we will have an early start & move up to the basin in Llangollen for a couple of days. Wilson's are due in the morning to fit the frame & template for the back cover & RCR are coming to do an engine service in the afternoon so we better make sure we nip to the shops & get the biscuits in ;-)
Hopefully the weather will be kind on Thursday & then we'll get our walk up to the Castell. 

Monday, 11 October 2010

Nantwich to Ellesmere

Normal service resumes as I now have 15g a month to play with  ;-)  It seems an age since  we left Nantwich on a very misty morning...

 which, by the time we'd winded ready to head back north had burnt off .....

to give us a beautiful autumn day.

Our turn for the 1st lock at Hurleston, note no fenders down, since coming off the wide canals we had been used to ie the Aire & Calder & losing one or two on the Macclesfield we now only use them for mooring.
 The Hurleston  locks are very narrow & there are signs advising boaters to remove fenders as with them down you are likely to, at best lose them or worse, get stuck. So, fenderless, we smugly made our way up through  the four locks. 
As mark came out of the top lock he lost steering so we pulled in just past the waterpoint for a trip down the weed hatch, he found what he thought was a knotty lump of rope that slipped from his grasp, when it surfaced it turned out to be a rope side fender! A few yards further along &  we spotted another in the water, words fail me...

We moored up at Wrenbury & spent the next day catching up on the chores, taking advantage of fine weather to get the washing dried outside. 

Wednesday we pottered on to Grindley Brook & spotting the cafe as we did the staircase I thought a toasted tea cake & coffee seemed a good idea but by the time we emerged from the top lock & had filled the water tank it was 11.45 so we had an early lunch instead. It was very pleasant sat outside in the sunshine watching the world go by & being entertained by the Americans on a hire boat on spotting the cafe wondering if they could moor up  'in the lock' luckily they figured it out & moored up at the top!

Just 1/ 2 an hour & we were in Whitchurch, after mooring up we had a pleasant walk into town to stretch our legs. I was looking for some more winter gloves  ( it's a bit chilly now in the mornings!) & spotted a likely looking shop Colour Supplies,  I soon found some gloves but before heading to the till I went for a wander around & my what a shop, it looks like a normal shop from the outside but it's like a rabbit warren, one department runs into another & I don't think there is much they don't sell, well worth a stop if you want anything DIY or household related.

Next morning, Thursday, it's cold & foggy as we set off at 9.30am, having  no real plan for our next mooring spot we just pottered along until spotting somewhere likely which turned out to be just past Bettesfield. We lit the fire to warm up & it just got going as the sun came out....

We stayed put for Friday, a cold, grey & windy day. Chores day, Mark sawed & chopped the wood & I cleaned & tidied.

Saturday morning, it was just a short 2 hour cruise to Ellesmere...   

Poppy just about to turn onto the Ellesmere arm, the imposing  Beech House in the background where Thomas Telford, engineer had his office whist the canal was built.
 We found a spot on the 72 hour moorings & headed straight for the very handy Tesco to get the Saturday paper & some fresh bread then back to the boat for a spot of lunch. 
The afternoon was spent wandering & exploring Ellesmere.

Yesterday after a lazy morning reading the papers we walked back up the towpath past Blake 
mere & round Colemere,  warm & sunny, it was another perfect autumn day. There are some 48 hour moorings with great views of Blake Mere, we may well stop there on our way back from Wales.

This morning I called into the medical centre to see if I could get a prescription for my 
regular medication & was pleased to find it was very straightforward & I can pick up a new prescription on Wednesday morning, efficient indeed! 
We will move up to the services tomorrow & then onto the 48 hour moorings on the mainline till I get my meds sorted then onwards towards Llangollen

Sid looking very grown up & as if butter wouldn't melt... don't be fooled!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Chester to Nantwich

Sunday morning saw us up early & we moved the few yards to the water point by 7am then it was a careful reverse past a couple of moored boats & under the bridge to the winding point, an about turn & off  back into the countryside. A short stop at bridge 19 to nip to the handy 'one stop shop' for the papers & despite the slow crawl past the Golden Nook moorings we were settled in near the Shady Oak by 11am.

Chores day, washing, cleaning & log chopping

 Despite overcast skies we donned our boots & had a walk  round & about  Tiverton ending up at the Shady Oak for lunch & very nice it was too.

 On our way into Chester last Tuesday the lady on the boat we shared Beeston Stone lock with (terrible memory for boat names!) recommended the Wednesday market just up the road from the iron lock so, being a bit low on fruit & veg we decided, despite the rain, to move through the 2 locks  & stock up.
 It was a good job that fruit & veg was all we did want as there was 1 veg stall & very little else, maybe the rain had put people off, it was very wet. 
We would have stayed put but signals for Internet & TV poor so off again,  stopping off at Anglo Welsh for fuel (69p before tax - self declare) & a water top up before ascending the Bunbury staircase locks. Whilst waiting for the lock to fill I spotted a laden damson tree & by the time Mark was moving into the 2nd lock I'd picked a hatful.  
We found a good spot before the bridge & I was just about to make a sandwich when coal ( & lots of other useful stuff) boat Alton chugged past, a quick shout & Brian shouted  " I'll be back in 15 mins " So before long we were also stocked up with coal. We usually use excel but are giving  'pure heat' a try as we don't really know which is best, whoever you ask everyone has a different opinion !  The damson crumble was delicious.

 The day started with the sun peeping through the mist which quickly burned off leaving us with a perfect autumn day.  We left at 9am, stopping off at Calverly services to empty loos & dump rubbish, then really enjoyed the cruise to Nantwich, finding a handy mooring just before the aqueduct. Nantwich is lovely, lots of half timbered crooked houses interspersed with elegant ( & not at all crooked) Georgian ones. 

October announces it's arrival with wind & heavy rain,  we waited till it eased a bit  mid afternoon before venturing out to Morrison's.

The sunshine is back with us today,  we've had a potter round the town this morning & now Mark's listening to the golf while I get this blog updated. 

No pics unfortunately - Because ..... we use the 3 wifi dongle & until a few weeks ago it was fine, 5 gb a month for £15 which usually more than enough for both of us, then last month Mark watched a lot of 'you tube' vids & we were cut off with the message 'you have exceeded your data allowance'
So a phone call to 3 ( fortunately free as I  have a 3 phone) to find out that I can purchase 'add on'  data at £10 per 100 mb OUCH that's expensive!  I bought £20's worth & put it down to experience. 
Then I got my new net book, needed to down load some software for home accounts, tried one (30 day free trial) for a couple of days & found it hard going so looked to the tutorial - which was 'you tube' vids...... Couldn't get on with it, despite the tutorial ! & downloaded another which is much easier to use ( no  training videos needed either) so all okay except then I got cut off with the 'you have exceeded ... etc'  B****r !! Another phone call to 3 & another very expensive 20 mb, the nice man I spoke to suggested that I upgrade to 15g for £20 I'm  thinking about it, it will mean we can use iplayer now & again... but if you use the 3 wifi/mifi dongle, be warned, add on data is a ripoff !

Which is why there is no pics as I'm using Mark's old vodaphone pay as you go dongle, ( £15 for 1g !!) it's happy to let me do my blog but not with pictures..........