Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Down the Monty

 We've just returned from a few days down the Monty & dragged our neighbour Dai with us with his 70ft long 3ft deep rebuilt ex FMC boat Fern.  There were a few bits where he got stuck, but managed to drive a path through by taking a run at it!  Unfortunately he can't go any further than Queens Head as he's rather deep drafted & comes to a complete stop just under the road bridge.  Not to worry, we still had a lovely peaceful time - quite a contrast to the busy top end of the Llangollen in July.  The good news is that Colin the Lockeeper has come out of hospital today and is on the mend.  Our best wishes to him for a speedy recovery.
 Smile for the camera boys - I said smile Dave !!!
 The last bit of towpath of the 11 mile section of World Heritage Site has now been completed, this is through Chirk cutting between the golf course & Chirk Tunnel.  Fantastic.  It's now accessible by walking, bikes and for wheelchairs all the way from beyond the Poacher's Pocket (almost to the Lion Quays) and up to the Horseshoe Falls at the top end.  Unfortunately, there's still a section of about 500 yards through the cutting which has not been, and will not be done - that's the muddiest section in the whole of the 11 mile stretch!  It's the only bit that hasn't been upgraded in the last 4 years.  As you can see from the picture, the new towpath stops a few yards from where the muddy bit starts.  Duh!!

 At long last, the "layby" just by Chirk Tunnel has been rebuilt.  This offers mooring for 4/5 boats wishing to visit Chirk town for shops, pubs etc, also handy for Chirk Castle.  The bad news is that all the mooring rings have been removed and not replaced - so you can't actually moor there anyway - unless you're prepared to be the first to hammer through the newly laid hardcore and concrete.  Ah well, it looks nice....  The only alternative for mooring up to visit the town is drive stakes into the soft mud a bit further away, which jump out of the earth as soon as the first boat comes past.  I know I shouldn't complain, as the towpath and facilities on this bit of the canal are far superior to others we visit, but it's just so close to being perfect!  just a little bit more foresight and we would have been there. 

I had to put this pic in - it's the boat & butty selling "canalware" which has been moored at the top of the locks at New Marton for over 2 months now - and it's on the move - a rare sight.  It just so happened to be on the same day that we saw the BW licence checker on his way up the canal .....

Friday, 1 July 2011

Jaunt to Blakemere

We've just returned from a lovely couple of days at Blakemere - it seems that nature is reclaiming the mere, after an absence of wildlife over the last few years (apart from mallards).  We saw grebe, swans, canada geese with goslings, herons, oddly enough - an oyster catcher, and much to Dave's delight the first kingfisher of the year.  There was a noticable absence of fishermen - is this a coincidence ...... ?

The weather on sunday was fabulous, we were thankfully moored under the trees on the side of the mere.  Unfortunately the sun brings out the most inappropriate attire - shorts short enough to make one's eyes water - and that's the men who are old enough to know better, and very large women wearing not very much on top - and don't start me on the men wearing no shirts !!!
We passed a field full of lambs, which had been separated from their mums.  Lambs on one side of the canal and ewes on the other side.  All bleating at eachother - what a racket!  One lamb made a dive for his mum (the black one in the picture) but then couldnt get out of the canal on the other side.  It did eventually get itself out onto  the "lamb" side field with the help of me with the boat pole "persuading" it back to the correct bank, or put another way, poking it with a stick.
Lambs on one side of the canal

Ewes on the other.  That reminds me, must get mutton out of the freezer.

We were boat no.6 in the queue to come up the locks at New Marton, so I jumped off the boat with my windlass to help things along abit.  As I approached the lock, a woman who was shutting the top gate shouted at me "C'mon, hurry up, start winding".  "I'll wait until the steerer is ready" I replied & waited for the nod from the boat going down, then opened a paddle.  Organising woman trundles over to me - "which boat are you on?"  "The one at the back of the queue" I replied.  "Oh, sorry" she said, "I thought you were on a hire boat".  I shook my head and tutted at her & walked away, as it wasn't worth wasting my breath, she too was "helping" at the lock and had nothing to do with the boat going down - she too was waiting to come up.  This is what the hire boats have to put up with, this superiority complex.  By the way, there was also a bloke at the lock, locking boats up and down who was from a hire boat waiting to come up in the queue, he was getting stuck in & getting the queue down while the owners of the private boats waiting to come up, just sat on board and watched.  We did see some terrible examples of pushy private boats over the last few days.  There is definitely a  hierarchy involved - my boat is shinier than yours, so therefore I can push past you and tut tut at your inefficient driving methods.  Not so shiny boats can't shout at the shiny boats, so they have a go at the hire boats, and think its good sport to push past if anyone is aground or having trouble - so making the situation 10 times worse.