Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Plum Done

An impressive home for Mr J D Weatherspoon in Llandudno 

Happy Bank Holiday Monday everyone

I don't suppose there's anyone reading this today, you'll be paddling at the seaside or sitting in a traffic jam on the M6 which seems to be another popular bank holiday pastime these days. Carl and I are still under the spell of Weaver World and have been happily chugging from one remote mooring to the next. Today we're back on the Royal Vale moorings again - we hadn't planned to stay another night but this morning, the Royal Vale Lock was stubbornly refusing to open it's gates to let boats pass through.

The cheery lock-keeper swung his grappling hook through the water trawling for the blockage while we floated around outside the lock. I remember this lock-keeper from our previous visit - he's worked on these locks for many years and looks like Captain Birds Eye with his bushy grey beard and twinkling eyes. Captain Carl soon got tired of waiting and spun the boat round and left them to it – it's a beautiful morning and it matters not at all which way we go. The sun is warm as we chug past last night's mooring spot and make for the low swing bridge – as we approach it I'm thinking it's too low for us to get under, so I scoop Tricky up and step down off the deck while Carl steers us safely through – whatever was I worried about, there was loads of room, it was one of those 'optical delusions'!! We're not the only ones enjoying the day, a pair of Grebes are giving their offspring fishing lessons, a cloud of swallows streak along the water, dipping and dancing and a lone cormorant fishes from the wooden posts near the weir. The humans are fishing too – khaki tents pitched on the river bank with a line of rods dangling in the water and an unsmiling figure glaring up at us as we slip quietly by. If they're enjoying their bank holiday fishing trip then it's not apparent from their grim faces – I wave anyway in case it might cheer them up.

The industrial past of the the Weaver Navigation is almost forgotten now except for the salt workings that we pass on our way to Winsford. A JCB is working away at the top of a huge mountain of rock salt, running back and forwards along the summit, heaping up the salt and pushing it over the the steep edges – it's a giant game of sandcastles and as we watch him charging up and down, I'm holding my breath and wandering what force of nature stops the whole lot from slithering into the river. We chug along there and back, just a mini cruise today to charge the batteries and escape from the three Jack Russell terrorists owned by the people who moored by us late yesterday evening. Their dogs immediately leapt ashore and set up gang headquarters on the bank – they chased after bikes and walkers, yapping and barking at anything and everything that moved. I don't want to sound unreasonable, after all I like dogs and these little chaps were really cute but we'd been enjoying a particularly tranquil afternoon, reading and listening to the summer sounds of the riverbank, until these canine hoodlums arrived. The Royal Vale moorings are a particularly peaceful spot - there's no traffic noise, only an occasional train in the distance sometimes and the whoosh of a bike rushing by on the tow-path so I'm glad to say that the locks have re-opened and our noisy neighbours have left us to enjoy the peace and quiet one more.

The Spanish Plume has retreated leaving cooler mornings and a cooler breeze to remind us that Autumn is just around the corner. The rain storms that were forecast have mostly eluded us here in Weaver World – we've had rain showers in the evenings but the mornings have been dry with sunny intervals – perfect boating weather. If it rains after we've moored for the day then it doesn't count unless I have to put my waterproofs on to walk Tricky!

The weather forecast for Thursday was good so we left the boat moored by the picturesque Sutton Weaver swing bridge and made the long trek into Frodsham to catch the train to Llandudno. The train travels along the Dee estuary towards the resorts of Prestatyn and Colwyn Bay before reaching Llandudno Town, the last stop on the line – it's a very scenic route with the sea on one side and hidden castles in the wooded slopes on the other. You can't beat a day at the sea-side and this is a real old-fashioned resort with a promenade that stretches for miles, although I'm not so keen on the pebbly beach. I managed to dip my toes in the sea but not one person was swimming - the water was very cold and infested with jelly fish. Welcome to Wales! We shuffled along the pier with all the other old codgers and looked back at the word 'Llandudno' picked out in white on the lush green of the grass in the park. The cable car wasn't working(too windy) and there was a huge queue for the Tram which runs up the steep slope to the top of the 'Big Orme'. I stood at the bottom of the road leading up to the summit and assessed the gradient and decided that the view from the top will have to wait until either I'm fitter (who am I kidding!) or I have the time to queue for the Tram.

On our travels this week we found a plum tree laden with golden fruit, sweet and juicy and ripe – it's making my mouth water just telling you about them. Those awful, tasteless things you buy in the supermarket aren't a patch on those eaten fresh from the tree. Our fruit trees at home remain stubbornly barren – if they don't get cracking soon they're going to be kindling!

That's all from us for this week – we'll be back on the canals next week doing some proper boating instead of this aimless floating around. Have a lovely week everyone.

Love from

The Floating Chandlers