Today we're poised on the English border, ready to cross into Wales for the final leg of our Autumn cruise. The weather's become very Welsh since we turned down the Llangollen Canal and our waterproofs aren't keeping the rain out. Tricky shelters under the hatch and is quite cosy as the floor is warm from the heat of the engine, while Carl and I shiver under the umbrella and watch the black clouds roll across the sky. Luckily for us, the rain is intermittent, and we've had some dry, sunny spells in between the showers. The nights are turning chillier too so we were pleased to meet the fuel boat in Wrenbury. Three bags of their best 'Footwarmer' coal are tucked up on the roof and I've been doing my bit by collecting wood along the way to add to the stash in the bows - the weather can do what it wants now - we're ready for winter.
Audlem was very busy on Monday morning with hire boats rushing up and down the flight. We delayed our departure until the first flurry had died down then set off with the warmth of the September sun glinting off the lakes as we crossed the Weaver Valley aqueduct. The hire boats along here are numerous and we're used to meeting people from all over the world, who've come to England to spend a fortune hiring a narrow boat thinking it will be 'fun'. It's not really much fun when you're committed to spend 8 hours on the tiller in the pouring rain and I do feel sorry for them as they flog past with their flimsy plastic macs flapping in the gale force wind with blue knees and rain running off the end of their nose. My favourites are the Americans and the Canadians - they're all so damned cheerful, whatever the weather! They love to chat at the locks but woe betide anyone who mixes up their nationalities. We did spot a flag that we didn't recognise this week, it was blue with a yellow stripe and 2 white stars. 'I don't recognise your flag - where are you from?' I called out to them as they cruised by. The reply wasn't at all what I expected - they were English but flew the Curacean flag as they'd had a holiday there once and liked the country a lot - they said it was a good talking point and, of course, they were right about that!
|Weaver Valley - Audlem|
Coming up the Hurlestone flight, I spied a tree laden with ripe damsons - I'm amazed that the fruit was still there as this is a busy flight with lots of boats up and down. Usually, the trees closest to the canal have been stripped bare and I've hardly found any damsons at all on the way down the Shroppie. These were just ripe for picking, sweet and juicy, even the lower branches were loaded with fruit - too nice to resist, so I filled my pockets. At Grindley Brook, there were cooking apples and marrows in a basket by the bottom lock. I helped myself to the apples but couldn't think of anything to do with a marrow - does anyone actually eat those things?
We've whizzed along the Llangollen Canal this week through Wrenbury and Grindley Brook to Whitchurch where we parted from our travelling companions, Pat and Malc. They turned the Naga Queen for home on Friday and we're continuing our cruise without them - we'll miss their company and so will Tricky. Whitchurch was humming with shoppers when we walked up to town with them on Friday morning. The early morning showers had cleared away and we idled away the morning poking around in the charity shops and drinking coffee in Benjamins before scooting round Tesco's where we filled the trolley full to bursting with our weekly supplies before joining the other pensioners on the local community bus back to the boat. As Pat and Malc set off back towards Grinley Brook we went under the lift bridge and chugged off towards Ellesmere in the bright afternoon sunshine. We didn't get very far before we found a peaceful spot to moor up – just us, on our own, far from the noisy Whitchurch bypass. Tidy as they say in Wales!
|Tricky's already in her winter coat|
Tricky rolled in something disgusting this week and even with a couple of Naga Champ joss sticks burning, I could still smell her. I had to give her a bath, but then the boat reeked of wet dog. On top of that, I made a chicken curry for tea and that perfumed my dreams with Eastern Promise and I woke up with a curry headache. I should know better than to believe the advertising hype but I succumbed to the temptation of a squirty can of fruity scented Febreze and ran through the boat, leaving a cloud of vapour that a Boeing jet would have been proud of, then left it to do its magic while we sauntered into town. We came back to an even worse niff - curry flavoured,melon scented, wet dog! Luckily for us, we've had some sunny spells so I've been able to give the boat a good airing, a real breeze is better than 10 cans of Fauxbreeze and the pongy curry/melon/dog smell has been replaced by the merest hint of cow dung. Ah well, you can't win them all - pass the Naga Champ please Carl!
Tomorrow we set off with the hordes of holidaymakers heading for Llangollen. We've moored just before the busy junction in Ellesmere and there's been a constant stream of boats passing by. It's so busy that we may dive off down the Mongomery Canal, in search of the peace and quiet that we love. The Llangollen Canal goes through some of the most beautiful countryside, but with so many boats on such a narrow canal it's hard to enjoy it as you never know what's coming at you around the next bend. Yesterday, we met a day boat just where a large group of trees were hanging over the water, reducing visibility considerably. We couldn't see him but we could hear the roar of his engine and the waters boiled with a huge bow wave coming around the corner so we gave him a toot on the horn to let him know that we were just around the bend. He responded by tooting his horn in response and throwing the throttle into hard reverse. Dad and son were on the stern, female passengers looking at us from the cabin, clutching glasses of fizz and looking worried as their bows drifted across towards us. Dad knocked off the throttle and waggled the tiller till their stern swung out to meet us and we crept passed them on tick over. Then they were off again, engine at full throttle, young lad hanging dangerously over the stern without a life jacket.
|Ellesmere in Bloom|
The forecast is abominable for the coming week,I don't mind though, I've downloaded four new books onto my reader and I've got a stash of wool to keep me occupied. Anyone need a crocheted dishcloth or a granny square blankie?
That's all from us for this week, take care everyone
Love and Hugs as always
The Floating Chandlers
PS I was standing next to a chap who was operating the paddles on the Grindley staircase when his windlass suddenly flew up in the air and came down on the ground by my feet. Phew! – that was too close for comfort!