Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Wales, Ales and Olympic Flames

Our progress over the last seven days has seen us in Wales and then out of it, and then in again, such are the vagaries of the border round here. After spending a couple of days layed up in Whitchurch, we moved on again to Ellesmere, a little town of around 3,000 on the North Shropshire border.  We found a great spot on the little arm off the main canal and decided to spend a couple of days there. Why not. We aren’t in a race and there was a Tesco at the bottom of the arm - a huge plus for visiting boaters.
Last Friday evening I was taking it easy, replying to an E Mail from Suzie in Southampton, who is having a boat built by Kingfisher next year and she mentioned that Fred and Lisa were on the Llangollen. They are also having a boat built at Trent Lock, which will be finished in the autumn. I look out of the window, and there they were. How crazy is that. They had moored up by chance, gone to Tesco and walked past TCW. It was good to see them. They were hiring on the Llangollen and had stumbled upon us
But to backtrack, while we were in Whitchurch we went into Argos and purchased a shopping trolley, such the same as my mum and gran used to use, so we are now serious senior shoppers. I’m trying to persuade Pat to have a blue rinse! While in Argos we also got a couple of two-way radios. There are those on the canal system who frown at such technology, preferring a pre-arranged set of hand signals to stop, call you on and tell you a boat is coming up, but my eyesight is just not up to it anymore and I like a bit of technology, especially when I can say to Pat, “Roger, Roger”.
By the way, if you want to look at any of the pix below, just double click on them.
Searching for what was causing the tiller to wobble.
A pair of pyjama bottoms wrapped around the prop.

Pat models our new Shopping Trolley

From Ellesmere we meandered down to Chirk and then early Sunday morning we went over the Chirk aquaduct, through the tunnel and then over the famous Pontcysylte Aqueduct. I don’t know how many articles I have read about this wonder of the waterways, but to me it was quite a surreal experience , floating in a long bath tub up in the clouds. I kept very much over to the towpath side though. I had no desire or inclination to look over the edge at the sheer drop of 200 feet into the Dee Valley. Pat walked across and took a few pictures of me emerging on the other side at Trevor basin.
The Cat's Whiskers makes it across. Phewwww.

Floating 200ft above the Dee Valley

Then we had the crawl through the narrows to Llangollen and the crazies were out in droves. Most of the day boats coming out of Llangollen were laden down with alcohol and revellers taking advantage of the fantastic weather, but they treated the event more like being at a fair, using these craft as bumper cars rather than boats, and thought nothing about careering into anything moored or moving and laughing it off. One chap went between me and a moored boat and got himself jammed in and then threw his hands up as if it wasn’t his fault. I wonder if they had just spent nearly £90,000 on a new car whether they would be so cavalier.

We had received a lot of advice about Llangollen and we found the radios very useful in the narrow sections as Pat raced ahead on the towpath and kept me up to date with the hire boats heading my way and which ones had Lewis Hamilton at the tiller. We eventually moored in the basin above the town in a very attractive location.
On Monday we caught the bus into Wrexham, about 30 minutes away. I bought some new sandals and as we keep breaking wine glasses and tumblers we topped them up as well. Interesting pint of some local Dragon beer at 6 per cent in the Wetherspoons there. Must say I have been a bit disappointed in the beer in the pubs around here though the Slaters was OK last night in the “Corn Mill”, down on the River Dee below us. The beer in The Telford Arms at Trevor, “Waggledance”, was very average.
Narrowboat Saturn arrives with the torch
We are supposed to be taking it easy, but yesterday morning we were up at 6am and away from the marina at 6.30am. The aqueduct shuts on Wednesday morning for the Olympic torch to make its way over and it seemed sensible to be on the other side before that, hence the leaving time  to get a decent mooring. We have moored up just 200 metres from the aqueduct, but within an hour it had filled up and now there is a long line of boats moored in the sunshine, while locals are cutting grass and putting up hundreds of Welsh flags. I think the plan is to walk over to the other side early tomorrow morning before they shut the aqueduct at 8am. An old historic boat “Saturn” is being used as the torch bearer. We saw it moored in Llangollen.
The flame arrives on the opposite towpath

Olympic flame-resistant sunglasses at the ready

And it was worth hanging around for. We were up at 7am and walked over the aqueduct and joined a couple of thousand boaters, locals, school children and guests and got a really good view of the flame aboard the boat – see pix. I am not a huge fan of the Olympics, but as everybody says, it is a once in a lifetime memory, and I am glad we made the effort to embrace it.  We set off and a couple of miles down the cut we passed “The Poachers Pocket” and the girl who ran that leg, was standing by the towpath, posing for pix. Pat took a quick pic but cut her head off so I have not included it. Then it was a record day’s mileage so far, 14 1/2 miles back to Ellesmere for the night, arriving around 6pm and eagerly tuning in to BBC Wales to see if we made it on TV.
Now we backtrack to the Shropshire Union and pop up to Chester for a couple of days.  Then we start our descent to the south of the network through June and July.
Keep in touch.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent commentary,almost felt like we were there.So glad your both enjoying things.Looking forward to meeting up with you again in the future.Take Care,
    Fred & Lisa