Sunday, 17 September 2017

Feet and Inches

The Beautiful Montgomery

Morning All

We're almost in the same place as we were this time last week. Those of you who had sufficient leisure time to peruse our weekly rantings will realise that we are, of course, back at Ellesmere. We left this bastion of civilisation last Monday, and cruised for a little while until we spied a mooring of such splendour, such unexpected delight, that we were compelled to stop and tie up immediately. Bugger the state of charge of the batteries, for once they would have to do.

The sun was shining, the birds etc. etc. etc. so while Linda "did a few jobs around the boat" I decided to cut some wood we'd had lying on the roof for a week or so. Out came the saw, a really good one I bought recently, and out came the axe, a rather small one that I bought some years ago. Then followed a good half hour of cutting and chopping. Some walkers stopped to ask what I was doing. I wondered whether I should come clean and tell them I was researching a detailed history of Persian tomcats in Kiribati, but politeness won, so I explained what I was doing and why. I then went on to admit that we had a multi-fuel stove on board, while at the same time drawing their attention to the chimney on the roof, which can be a bit of a give away. Satisfied, they went on their way. I resumed my labours until finally the job was done, the kindling/logs were stowed away and I sat down to check how many fingers and thumbs I had left.

Morning Mr Blue Sky

We really love this time of year. The scenery is so full of colour, the scents in the air are so evocative of childhood memories and it is such a luxury to light the stove first thing in the morning and soak up its heat. At least we would if Tricky wouldn't hog it! She'll sit with her nose an inch away from the glass, gazing in rapture at the flames, panting because she is too hot, but not smart enough to move away.

There seem to be more flies about this September; I'm forever stalking up and down the boat with the fly swatter, trying to swat the little blighters. You'd think the numbers of spiders we keep finding would play the game, but they aimlessly spin webs in secret, then continually warn the flies not to come near.

So much for Monday and flies. Linda had booked our passage down the Frankton locks and onto the Montgomery canal for Tuesday. The Canal and River Trust were very helpful, even sending us an email confirming our passage. Amongst the details included in the email was our boat length, given as fifty six feet and twelve inches. Sigh.

photo courtesy NB Spirit

The locks here are only operated between 12.00 and 2.00 p.m. each day so we made sure to arrive in plenty of time. Eventually our turn came and I was happy to take the boat down the first, staircase lock and then the next two. I chugged off round the bend to the old Weston branch. Linda had walked ahead to check the mooring situation and called out that one side was full but that the other side was empty. After weighing up the various manoeuvres available to me and checking whether there was much of an audience, I decided to head to the bridge, do a half turn, then reverse slowly back up the arm. After following this plan vaguely, with a quiet determination to look as though I knew what I was doing, I had turned the boat a bit, reversed back a bit and eventually brought the boat to rest in exactly the right spot.(note from Linda – of course, no-one was watching!)

Cruising along the Montgomery Canal

After quite a few hours it was suddenly Wednesday morning. The severe gales and heavy rain that had been forecast for Tuesday night had been and gone, so off we set along the Montgomery canal in search off fresh fields and pastures new. In three hours cruising we only met two boats. After the Llangollen canal, where we seemed to meet boats at almost every bridge or large, encroaching tree, this was wonderful. I mentioned colourful scenery at the start of this week's ravings. The Montgomery canal must rank as one of our highlights this year for spectacular views and stunning countryside. We saw several of those birds that I once promised I wouldn't mention much. You know, kingfishers. I caught a quick glimpse of a small, squirrel like animal. It was a reddy brown colour. I don't suppose for one moment that it could have been a red squirrel- maybe a pine martin? We'll never know. Early Wednesday afternoon we arrived at the village of Maesbury Marsh, where we tied up for the rest of the day.

Poor old Graham Palmer is looking a bit battered

What can I say about Oswestry? Well, it's pronounced as it's spelt (I think), it contains lots of very attractive old buildings and seems a very nice small town. What really sold Oswestry to me though was the charity shop offering for sale two books that I've been looking for for ages. What a result! Sadly, we couldn't get to Oswestry by boat. Happily (and the realisation caused much rejoicing), one can catch a bus at Maesbury Marsh and travel to Oswestry. A return journey is also possible.

Graham Palmer lock on the Montgomery

This is why we were standing at a bus stop in the rain at 09.50 a.m. on Thursday morning. Linda had done her research and, after much head scratching, gleaned that a bus ought to appear at 10.00. There was some confusion, however, as the bus timetable was in a bush around the corner from the actual bus stop. Luckily for us, a very friendly gentleman was waiting for the bus in the designated place (it was the bus stop, not the bush). Probably the bus-service planners work for The Dept. of Aggravation, or The National Office of Idiocy, or even The Think-Tank for Removing all Traces of Common Sense.

The Navigation at Maesbury Marsh

Friday morning we turned the boat and made our way back to Frankton locks, after booking passage for our 56 foot 12 inch boat. We moored again near bridge 60, and moved on Saturday back to Ellesmere, where Claire and Reece joined us for the evening. And here we sit today, enjoying some late afternoon sun.

That's it for this week, I hope the sun is shining for you too

Love as always
The Floating Chandlers

PS The engine will be due for a service soon, which will include changing the gearbox oil (gulp!). This is a really awkward job, which I don't look forward to. Still, as long as Linda keeps me stocked up with tea (she always does, she's a star!) and I can listen to Sounds of the Sixties on catch-up with Tony Blackburn (I do miss Brian Matthew) and Phil "The Collector" Swern I should be ok.

PPS Linda here – I met a fellow blogger this week, Irene and Ian on Free Spirit were coming up Frankton Locks and our two boats crossed in the middle pound. Irene recognised Tricky, who was sitting in her usual perch on the hatch, looking aloof as always. Fame at last Tricky! Have a look at for some great photos.

Winding Hole On the Montgomery

Trees on the turn

Aston No 1 Lock