Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Off we go!

Bit of a monologue today, trying to catch up: We finally ‘set sail’ at 4pm Sunday, after loading the wood onto the roof, and watching the F1 Grand Prix. Button 2nd, so worth waiting for. We’re “spot the live-aboards” traversing the cut, huge amounts of wood covered with plastic sheets, though the flowers seem to lessen the impact. We knew the weather would change for the better, as se swapped our summer clothes for winter outfits from my Mum’s loft, and retrieved all the wooly jumpers, hats, scarves, gloves, wellies & sou’westers. The weather is glorious, and we’re appreciating it in our vests.

We made it to the Lion Quays & had a mediocre meal served in a poncy bowl. Is it too much to ask to have a dinner on a plate? There were a lot of boats on the move & still a queue coming up New Marton Locks on Monday, no problem for us going down. No doubt there’ll be a queue Wed morning coming down when they all return from Llangollen. We moored in our favourite spot at the end of Blakemere Monday evening, for me to admire the sunset over the mere, whilst Dave walked back to the White Heart. Good news - after a few years of temporary managers and periods of closure, the pub is open and serving great beer with 4 hand pulls. The current Landlord has sold his house, given up his day job and moved in full time and wants to make a go of it. I just hope the brewery don’t do their usual trick of doubling the rent as they start to make a profit.
The queue to go up New Marton bottom lock

People have been lovely over the last few days. The usual dog walkers, pram pushers & locals have been shouting across “not long now till you’re off”. “You’re like swallows” said Elver, the old guy who walks his very fat choc lab past every morning, “be glad to see you back next year - I’ll know summer is on its way”. A local spotted us passing his canal side house on our way to the winding hold, and was waiting for us on our return, arm outstretched with some eggs from his bantams “for the journey” Very kind. We’ve also had people shouting at us “keep blogging”, which was very encouraging. Thanks all.

As we passed Frankton Junction, the two planks - sorry - Oak & Ash Hotel Boats, were being tethered together after having come up the locks. We then quickened our pace, as we didn’t want him tailgating us all the way to Ellesmere. He passed our mooring last Friday morning, again shouting abuse at a passing hire boat (who was desperately trying to get out of his way) and unnecessarily hitting their bow whilst holding his hand on the horn for ages. No need for that.

We had a “Hoot off” last night at Blakemere, with quite a few owls calling to each other in the trees above our heads as we sat on the front deck in the darkness. I wanted to grab my phone and record it all, but was afraid of moving in case I disturbed them.
View from the front of the boat this morning at Blakemere

The optimist in me says, If it continues to be as good as it has been over the last few days, then we’re in for a wonderful cruise. Life doesn’t get better than this. The Pessimist says: I hope we haven’t peaked to early!

the House at bridge 62 has finally been sold, its so overgrown now, so no doubt will be completeley transformed by the time we return next April ...

We’ve stopped at Colemere while pall Bill has a look at our unreliable bubble stove & hijacked his broadband connection.  Bloggers Bendigedig went passed on their way up to Llangollen for the winter.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Sans Souci now sold & we're ready to go!

Sans Souci has been sold and we've delivered her to her new owners at Whixall Marina - so not that far away, and we will no doubt see her again.  Dave was very sad to see her go, after all, it was his home for 18 years, but time moves on, neither of us are getting any younger, and single handed boating was becoming more difficult and cost prohibitive, so having the two boats was rather over indulgent.  Besides, we have a wonderful home on Beefur.  We will both sorely miss the dunky dunk of Sans Souci's single cylinder Armstrong Siddeley.  I'm sure the new owners will appreciate her as much as we did.  Farewell Susi Babe.
The magnificent AS1 .....

Snapped this boat passing, with exactly the same colour scheme as Beefur.  Good Taste.

The flowers are lasting well, so a few indulgent snaps to follow.  Hope they last a couple more weeks till we get to the Stourbridge rally mid Oct.  Makes driving the boat a bit tricky, you have to look down the sides as the geraniums are too high.  Ah well, it adds to the fun, and the colours are fantastic.  They've taken too much TLC to get rid of them, the roof will be back to just wood for the fire in no time, so we'll just hang on to this last bit of summer on the roof.

We're all set for the OFF on Sunday.  The engine has been serviced.  I've stocked up on spares.  I've washed everything that wasn't tied down.  Brasso-ed the things that were tied down till I ran out of elbow grease.  Hazel next door is a whizz with the chain saw, so we've cut up the last of the big logs we collected last winter, in the vain attempt to load them on the roof for our winter fuel this year.  Dave won't leave any flowers behind,  so there won't be alot of room.  I don't know where the summer went, but it's time for us to leave again till next March/April.  I've been studying the stoppages, and we think we'll head for Oxford after Stourbridge, till Christmas - then tum-te-tum round the midlands.

We've had our last trip to Llangollen for this year, and managed to sit outside in the Corn Mill in our coats for a bit before whimping out & going inside, it has to be one of the best pubs we have ever been to, and we're lucky enough to have it as a local.  It's such a treat to get a pub selling 5 or 6 real ales, with views to die for.  The river Dee was running very fierce, but there were still canoeists.  This is a pic of a friend of a friend (sorry about the finger in the shot).  I can see why her nick name is Marbles - cos she's lost em!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Day boat number 6 arrives

Another day, another day boat.  Day boat number 6 was delivered last week, to add to the fleet operating at Anglo Welsh at Trevor Basin.  We had hoped that this meant that one of the old boats would be "retired", but all 6 are operating at the moment.
Brand new boat being delivered - no scratches on the paint - for now.

Dayboat No. 1  "Jawcawls" in action - bouncing off the concrete then into the boat moored in front of us, then back to the concrete.  It missed us though.

We seem to have survived the busiest week of the season, August bank holiday week.  The kids start to go back to school this week so the number of hire boats decrease, only to be replaced by the private and ownership boats.  Although there has been a huge number of boats around this summer (we counted 108 one day), they don't set off at stupid-o'clock in the morning - they're on holiday!!! Unlike the private boats who tear past at 5.30am, so as to get a good run at it [llangollen].  So we're preparing ourselves for a few early starts in the weeks ahead.  We'll no doubt get an 'owners club' convoy of 18-20 narrowboats over the next couple of weeks, who always remark "Isn't it busy here?" "Well it wasn't until you lot turned up".
Beefur and Sans Souci out for a final cruise together (more of that in a future blog)

We didn't want to miss out on the fun at such a busy time in August, so we went on a jolly to Ellesmere/Blakemere.  On the way back up the locks at New Marton, we were number 3 in the queue going up, which is great for this time of year.  However, the queue at the top lock waiting to come down was something else - 14 boats.  We must have passed another 25-30 boats over the next 2 hours, all heading for the queue.  You queue to go up on a Tuesday, and queue to go down on a Wednesday, always the busiest days of the week.  Unfortunately, when you meet the boats coming down they're all grumpy for having had to queue and then rush you through the locks ("helping") by opening the top paddles with gusto before you've fully entered the lock "OI - it's OUR lock, OUR boat, OUR home, slow down or step away".

On a lighter note, Beefur's flowers are exceptional this year, and we are the proud recipients of the certificate for "Best narrowboat" as part of the Best Kept Garden Competition 2011 (Wales in Bloom), awarded by Llangollen Rural Community Council.  Just for a bit of community spirit, but it makes it very rewarding when you actually win something for your efforts.