Sunday was the most beautiful autumnal day and instead of enjoying it from the peace and tranquillity of the canal, I was bombing around the M25 with my top down! I know, I know - it's an old joke, but I couldn't resist, especially as in the very near future, I'll be getting my bottom blacked again - I bet you can't wait for that edition of 'The Jottings'!
Enough of this smuttiness, I'll start by explaining that Claire, my daughter, has a very handsome VW Beetle convertible that she calls Bruce. At last, she's abandoned her passion for four legs (horses) and fallen in love with something I can understand - cars. I wasn't immediately enthusiastic when she asked me if I wanted to 'Run to Ring' with her. I had visions of me in Lycra shorts, puffing along a hard shoulder with an entourage of snails passing me occasionally - not at all my cup of tea. Once I got the hang of the 'mission'(to join a convoy of assorted VW's driving around the M25 for charity) I was all for it and very happy to navigate us from Shrewsbury to our starting point, South Mimms Services, where we would join a bevy of VW beauties of all ages to drive the 122 miles around the M25. There were a few hiccups on the way down, mainly because we'd chosen to stay overnight in a B&B which looked very close to the Services, but turned out to be miles off the beaten track. We arrived much later than we'd planned, well after dark, mostly because Bruce doesn't like potholes and had to be nursed carefully over the bumpy country lanes. We'll skip over the next eight hours - neither of us slept very well as the room was so hot and then I woke Claire up at 5.30am by getting up to make a cup of tea - I was as parched as a desert! (probably due to the very large G&T I had the night before). We arrived at South Mimms Services on Sunday morning with only minutes to spare before the convoy was due to start. We had left the B&B in good time but the Sat Nav sent us to the village of South Mimms and then down another bumpy farm track into the wilderness before we accidentally met a VW camper and followed him into the services. I have only one word to describe the scene - WOW! The sun was shining, everyone was waving and beeping their hooters and taking photos of their beloved VW's. Bruce gleamed with polish, and looked very debonair with his roof down. We tagged along behind a vintage red Karmann Ghia and sat in a long queue waiting to join the M25. We hadn't thought much about the actual journey, except to book our passage over Dartford Bridge and we had a real panic when we lost sight of the convoy at the first set of traffic lights. The lights changed and the car in front went off without us - that's when we realised we didn't know which way the convoy was travelling around the M25 - was it going clockwise or anti-clockwise! Luckily, we made the right choice and were soon whizzing along to catch up with the others. I won't take you all around the M25 with us - those of you who drive it regularly know already that the standard of driving is appalling and Bruce was not impressed with being overtaken on both sides!! It was a relief to finish the run and head north again, back to the peace and tranquillity of the canals and my 4mph life. Thanks for the experience Claire, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
|Mrs Hen sleeping in the Cotton Arms|
Back to boating and a quick recap of our progress last week. We left Ellesmere and travelled back along the Llangollen, mooring in some of our favourite spots - the ones we missed on the way up. Grindley Brook was busy as usual and we got chatting to the people on the boat behind us as we waited for our turn to go into the staircase lock. John and Anne on 'Steadfast' were going back to their mooring in Nantwich and, as is often the case, we met them several times along the way. He's a chatty character with a broad Liverpudlian accent and is very knowledgeable about the Llangollen canal and the surrounding area. I learnt that the wonderful oak trees along here were planted by the canal company to provide oak for the future upkeep and maintenance of the locks - their forward planning has provided this canal with the mile after mile of mature oaks. This year they are loaded with acorns; they carpet the tow-paths under each tree and I've seen ducks feasting on them. I don't think I've seen that before and wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. John also told us about the Cotton Arms at Wrenbury, where they serve a midweek menu at a great price of £7 for 2 courses. He was so enthusiastic about it that we decided to give it a try, the only alternative aboard being something tinned from the emergency cupboard or some dodgy fish that's been in the freezer since Newark! The place was packed with pensioners - always a good sign. The food was tasty and home cooked, not huge portions but good value for the price. On our way out, we were surprised to find a chicken having a nap in a planter in the porch. The locals told us she sleeps there every night and didn't seem to care a bit that chicken was on the menu.
|Llangollen in the morning sun|
We've had a lovely trip along the Llangollen but it's a relief to be back on the Shroppie where there is much less traffic. We've lingered in Nantwich over the weekend, making time for a trip into the beautiful town and joined the locals, sitting outside the cafes, sipping their lattes and enjoying the warm sun. I was happy to find the lovely Mary still selling wool in the indoor market and stopped to gather a couple of balls of Aran to add to the ever growing wool mountain. Shhh! Don't tell Carl
It'll be a very leisurely cruise this week – we're killing time now till we go into Norbury for blacking and a general tidy up ready for winter. Have a good week and I'll be back next week as usual.
Lots of Love as always
The Floating Chandlers
PS If you're ever passing by Nantwich Marina don't miss 'The Little Shop on the Canal' run by the lovely Julie Spruce. Her shop is full of lovely crafty things and more wool!
|Julie in the Little Shop|
PPS I've got some beautiful new waterproof boots that actually keep my feet dry. They look like converse trainers but they're made of rubber. I've posted a picture on the blog along with a photo of that crazy chicken!
|View over Blakemere|
|Last Lift Bridge|
|Love this sky|
|Thatched cottage by the canal|
|Morning Mr Robin|