Friday, 6 May 2011

The end of a chapter..

I first have to apologise to everyone who reads my blog that I have not written for a very long while. When I last wrote, we were at Whixall Marina heading to the Forest of Dean to run a few errands. After we returned to the boat, we made a life changing decision. With all the uncertainty of future employment we decided to stay here in North Wales. Scott has already found a job with someone we met here and I am being a ‘boatwife’ for a while and doing some voluntary work for the Red Cross.

It was not an easy decision to make and I still cannot believe that we are not heading back to Uxbridge. It is also very sad to think that our year of travelling is over. It is however very exciting to start a new chapter in the countryside.

When I reflect on our year I have such happy memories. I think that not only have we come along way along the canals, we have learnt so much about each other and especially how to get on 24/7!. I really have developed the skill of relaxing and to enjoy and appreciate my surroundings. I think I have become a happier person.

I am unsure if you can be proud of a cat, however, I have been very impressed on how Matilda coped with moving from place to place. She also has come into her own. At home, she never hunted and she hardly went out into the garden. Here as soon as the boat stops she jumps off the boat to explore and bring us presents.

We have also had many welcome visitors who kept us company along the way. I think that my parents enjoyed popping up to the many different places and staying in an array of B&B’s. We were also visited by many friends, who brought a little bit of Uxbridge to us. I have been thankful for all the visits and hope that they will continue.

My final thanks is to Scott, who really was the driving force for this adventure. I would imagine it is very rare that a married couple would spend so long together (unless retired!) and I have been very lucky to build such a happy memory.

I am unsure if I keep blogging, I guess to blog is an incentive to do ‘stuff’ so that I have something to write about! But to end this chapter of our ‘journey’ I would like to thank you all for reading. It has been an honour and a pleasure to have shared this adventure with you..…

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Whixall Marina

We have had to run a few errands back in the Forest of Dean, so we stored the boat in Whixall Marina.

This marina is fantastic, the best I have ever seen. Friendly staff, good electricity and water points, little shop, shower block, laundry room (cheaper than the Llangollen launderette), excellent pontoons BT line and Wifi. The only problem is that it is in the middle of nowhere and you do need a car. On the plus side, it is surrounded by fields and it is so peaceful.

The marina is situated along an arm of the canal and involves undertaking 2 lift bridges. Our book warns us that the first one is difficult to manage and it was not wrong. It was such hard work that my arms are still hurting!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Grindley Brook

On Tuesday we left Hindford and travelled along the open countryside to one of my favourite places Ellesmere. I have been really taken in by Ellesmere, not only does it have a handy launderette and dare I say a Tesco’s close to the canal the canal, it has a lake and of course the canal which as a BW yard.. We stopped there to do some shopping and to go to the launderette. It was quite busy with canal boats and they have winter moorings along the arm.

On Wednesday we left Ellesmere quite early and travelled along to Whitchurch. It was quite far and we did not make it all the way, we did about four hours and then the cold got to us and when we could not bear it any more we moored up in a lovely spot with the sun shining through the windows. After Ellesmere the canal makes its way through woods and the lack of leaves makes it easier to see through the trees to the woodlands and lakes beyond. As I found going through the forest a little monotonous I multitasked and prepared our evening meal, ready to heat up later that evening leaving Scott steering the boat. My excuse was that the quorn needed to marinade, however, I just wanted to be in the warm a bit.

Today I woke up much to my dismay and my cold had not vanished. I felt terrible, everything ached and I could not move let alone being to think about doing the three lift bridges ahead of us. I stayed in bed until lunch time before slowing getting up. As the engine needed to be on to charge the battery it did seem silly not to move the boat so with me at the helm and Scott with the faithful windlass in his hand I navigated through three lift bridges whilst sniffling and sneezing, not a pretty sight. We are now moored up at Grindley Brook.

Monday, 28 February 2011

A Fond Farewell

It has been quite a sad few days. My parents came up to pick up the car however as a finale we drove along my favourite three roads all on one day. The road to the waterfall, the road along the Berwyn Mountains followed by a drive back from Llangollen the scenic route. A total of 70 miles. Luckily for me, Scott did the driving so I could savour every moment of the journey. Overall in 6 months we have added an extra 6000 miles to the little car and all during this time, I only recall one traffic jam which was in Shrewsbury.

This picture of course is of Thomas the Tank Engine, I could not resist taking a photo whilst we were in Llangollen.

Today we said a fond farewell to Chirk and headed back along the canal. We had not meant to stay in Wales for so long, however, I am pleased that we did. We made lifelong friends, enjoyed the fantastic countryside, had many a cream tea, enjoyed many lazy days admiring the views together with some very hard and spectacular walks. We had loads of visitors and I loved showing them around. It was very sad to leave and I did get a lump in my throat as we crossed the Chirk Aqueduct wondering when we would see it again.

We travelled along the canal and moored up in Hindford. It was about an 3 hour journey and my word was it cold. The wind swept across the fields and I was shivering, however, the views were lovely and the air was fresh. Despite being sad to leave Chirk, it was nice to be on the move again. Sadly it is a move to the unknown as I have had still no word on my redundancy

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Damp and Cold days with trips to Llanymynech and Ellesmere Port

The weather has been miserable it is so damp that even my bones feel cold. We have done a mixture of walks, launderette and chores around the boat mainly consisting of patching clothes. I am now a dab hand at the running stitch!

On Thursday we drove the scenic route to llangollen but it was so foggy you could only see a few feet in front. The trees and bushes on the edge in the road popped up in front of us like an old driving computer game. Sadly the lovely view was not to be seen and today it is no better.

Yesterday we went to Llanymynech. It was a miserable place with a very grubby feel to it. The shining light was the little general store which made their own cakes in the back.The reason for the visit was to see the un-navigable part of the Montgomery Canal and a visit to the Heritage area. The village is home to one of only the three remaining Hoffmann Kilns in the British Isles, and the only one with a chimney. The kiln at Llanymynech was used for lime burning.

Today we took a drive to Ellesmere Port to see the waterways museum. It was one of the best ones that we have been to, having been to the Gloucester and London museums. It had some lovely restored boats and workers cottages.

Now these are what I call pictures of lambs, however a bit of a health warning, after seeing these, I bet it will be harder to eat that lamb curry or lamb chops.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Larry the lamb

The weather has been really odd recently. Take Saturday, woke up with not a cloud in the sky. As it was warm and sunny we decided that a drive into the Berwyn Mountains was in order with a walk somewhere along the way. We took a different route taking the A5 to Cowen before turning off. We wanted to do a walk near a village called Llandrillo and but as soon as we arrived there was dark clouds overhead so in a quick change of plan, we took a short stroll around the village. This village seemed almost perfect, perhaps not that pretty, but it had everything. A local shop, church, school, small river going through it, bridge and little lanes. The houses were all different, not much uniformity to them which made the village more interesting. From little cottages to big bungalows.

After our walk we hopped back into the car and drove on the B4391through the hills and ending up Oswestry.

This morning again it was sunny and I have been meaning for a while to see the lambs in the field near the Marina, so we packed up our camera and our walking boots and headed down to the A5 and found a footpath which took us right into a field of sheep . Sadly the lambs not seem that engaging or wanted their picture taken. In fact we had to wait ages in a muddy wet field to take these ones. Their mothers did seem rather protective of them and there was lots of baa-ing from them when we arrived. We carried on through a number of fields and across some woods which housed a number of rabbits who also did not what their photo taken.

We have just now returned back from an afternoon drive to Ellesmere where we stopped to walk around the town and the lake. We came accross Shropshire's oldest pub (picture). Ellesmere seems to be getting ready for the tourist season, new signs posts, parking clearly displayed and the centre of Ellesmere seems to be a lot cleaner and brighter since we were last there .

It is now raining, damp and miserable again, but I don’t mind, as long as it clears up by March when we set ‘sail’ again. Just looked at my blog stats.. I have had 18 people from Belize look at my blog this week. Now is now isn't that just wierd?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Ruin, Chester, fish nibbling feet and a visitor

On Friday night we went to the pub for a rugby match. Now, I am not one for rugby at all, but I have never seen a match so I thought that as this is a year for new experiences, why not. The pub was just in the border of England, but you would not know it. Welsh flags everywhere, I think we were almost the only ones without a Welsh team t-shirt. The game was won by England, but I am unsure if it was a good game or not as I still am unsure how to play it. Later that evening the winds came and I have never been on a narrow boat when it was so windy. Despite using all three ropes, the boat rocked to and fro. Even Matilda was scared.

Saturday saw another miserable day but was brighten by a visitor. She arrived by train from Watford and was happy to be here again in this beautiful part of the country.

We did not do much on Saturday as her goal was to relax, we had a pub lunch and then a tea on the top of Horseshoe pass. The weather was really bad, wet, cold and windy and the evening was spent watching a film.

Sunday we took a walk up the Ruin above Llangollen. The view was not fantastic as it was cloudy. The wind was so strong, probably the strongest I have ever experienced, remaining standing was tricky especially at the top and whilst trying to negotiated the precarious steps back down. With the cobwebs gone and a good few lungs full of fresh air we treated ourselves to a cream tea.

Monday also was windy so we took a drive to Chester for lunch and found a café underground for a jacket potato. After lunch we decided to give our feet a little treat and found a shop which has tanks of Garra Rufa fish. Basically you put your feet into the tank and they eat all your dead skin cells. It felt very odd, like lots of little bubbles. I am unsure if there is any cruelty aspect of this, however, all I can say is that it worked after only 15 minutes of being nibbled my feet felt better. If I ever went again, I would do it for longer.

Today my friend went home and typically it is a lovely sunny day. We drove her to Shrewsbury as there are no trains from Wrexham to Shrewsbury due to flooding on the line as we did not want her to miss the connecting train by taking the rail replacement bus. It was lovely having her to stay and the boat feels a little empty at the moment. Tomorrow back to the routine as its laundry day yet again.