Friday, 27 April 2012

The best commute to work - ever!

This is my 'commute' to work - all be it just 2 days a week, Saturdays and Sundays, wow ......
Down the lane, with Beefur's moorings in the background

Over Fron lift bridge

past the winding hole, with the Aqueduct pub in the centre of the pic

Mornin' Alan.... Mornin' Mike.... Mornin' Dave & Jan...

heading towards the aqueduct, and these views.....

towards Trevor Rocks and the panorama, with Telford's drawing office just visibile in the trees
 (now a wonderfully placed private house), with the playing fields below.

Towards Ty Mawr country park

Cefn viaduct in the distance

looking towards Llangollen

down the valley towards Newbridge & Pentre

looking back at Fron

Over the river dee

With the original Pontcysyllte stone bridge river crossing below, the original route of Offa's Dyke
On the aqueduct, looking towards Fron

And so to work...
in the newly extended Information Centre, now operated by Wrexham Council (not BW)

Well, I've done my first weekend, and I'd forgotten how much I love this job - sharing my enthusiasm for the canal and local area to the many tourists passing through - and locals too - well, to anyone who wants to listen to me rambling on about how wonderful this part of the world is! 
Yes, I've missed it.
So if you're passing through Trevor Basin and crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, please call into the Tourist Information Centre and say 'Hello' - I'm there every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Ye Olde Reine Deer Banbury on the Telly Tonight

Tune into Channel 5 at 8pm for Rory McGrath's Pub Dig - The Old Reine Deer Inn at Banbury is featured tonight.  Fantastic old pub - you have to make a visit there when passing through Banbury - it would be rude not to!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Back to work for me

I've got a job!  I'm back in the Pontcysyllte Information Centre at Trevor Basin, working for Wrexham County Borough Council & not British Waterways.  The BW centre closed at the end of October 2010 due to lack of funds, and remained closed for last season (the army of volunteers failed to materialise).  It's now been taken over by WCBC, it's been extended, and there's loads more seating areas dotted around the place.  It looks great.  Again, it's a seasonal job till the end of September, and I'll be working weekends and bank holidays only.  Part time - don't want too much excitement!  Of course I didn't have an interview outfit, so had to take a trip out to Wrexham for the new kit.  Unfortunately, it means I now have to work a month before I've recouped the money spent on "office" type clothes - not having needed this type of attire for a number of years, just the BW uniform!  I still can't master walking in heels, but don't think my boots will cut the mustard, which has been my daily footwear for the last few years.  I'm looking forward to my first day tomorrow.  The job itself is far simpler than it was with BW - just manning the information centre - with no involvement with boats and the canal, bit of a shame, but I'm sure I'll cope.  The boaters will have to shout at someone else when they're queuing to get over the aqueduct!  I also bit the bullet and went to the hairdressers.  Gulp - £33.50!!!!  Blimey, I was there less than an hour.

The hair cut ... I did ask for "an inch all over", this was my downfall, as I should have gone metric.  The hairdresser was obviously too young to understand imperial measurements.  Never mind - it'll grow back in time.  I should have charged them for all the hair which was cut - you could make a wig out of it.

And so onto the random photo selection of the week.....
Beefur on the mooring, with Mr. Pheasant next to the clothes pole (the green thing sticking up)

Ah, lovely.  13 little ducklings, looks like they're a day old.  I wonder how many will be left by tomorrow....

Since coming back to The Fron, my Vodafone signal has been crap. But since I sold my soul to them on a contract till August, I can't do anything about it.  I've never experienced signal problems here at the moorings before now, but since we came back it's been rubbish.  I have complained, and Vodafone say there isn't a signal problem.  It's a real pain when you're unable to make contact with anyone for hours at a time, then all of a sudden, the signal will return and I'm innundated with voice calls and text messages.  I didn't like being without a phone here, so I bought a pay as you go Orange mobile - the cheapest I could find - £12.99 with £10 of credit on it.  Bargain!

The day boats have been out in force - why do they have to dress up as pirates?

I'm off now to find an iron, there's one in this boat somewhere......

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Want to vote in local elections? Declare yourself homeless!

With the local elections coming up on 3rd May, I contacted my local council in order to obtain a vote. I have been down this route before - 4 years ago, for the last local elections - but gave up after many phone calls (not returned) it seemed no one knew how I could register my vote, and I eventually gave up in dispair.  This time I was determined, but I was rather surprised to discover that I have to sign a form "Declaration of local connection - Homeless" form.  I explained to the council that I was not homeless as I live on a boat, and although we travel around for 7 months of the year, we pay for a home mooring for 12 months of the year, so my "local connection" is the area Llangollen Rural, under Wrexham County Borough Council.  Well it would seem that according to The Electoral Commission, "The term homeless will include anyone who does not have a current fixed abode ... which may be because you travel around, for example, in a camper van or canal boat".    It also adds to the confusion, that we don't get any mail here to the moorings, and my postal address is my mum's house.

No idea why these pics have decided to turn themselves sideways - can't get them to rotate sorry.

 I must say that I'm rather annoyed to put it mildly, that I am classed as a homeless person, in fact, I'm absolutely b****y furious!  The form has to be returned by 18th April so I'm just going to have to fill in the form through gritted teeth.

Incidentally, Dave has opted to remain vote-less since leaving the R.A.F. preferring to "stay under the radar" as he puts it!

Friday, 13 April 2012

White Hart Ellesmere - Beer Festival Review

The beer festival at the White Hart this bank holiday weekend was a great success, with 36 beers served up over the weekend, a hog roast on the Saturday evening, and BBQ all day Sunday.  One room was given over to musicians, with a vast array of instruments, who played throughout Sunday afternoon, just fantastic.  The place was packed and a merry time was had by all - on and the beer was exceptionally good.

The crowd had thinned out by Monday afternoon, here we have Kieth (NB Jack of Diamonds), Hazel (NB Tess of Wooton) who incidentally was on the phone to partner Mike - who was in work - explaining that the chicken dinner planned for that evening would now be a fish & chips take-away!  Also we have Mike (NB Makin Sport) who limped back today with a faulty gearbox.

The White Hart

Unfortunately, it was rather busy on our return run to Fron:  When we arrived at the bottom of New Marton Locks, we were 9th in the queue.  I immediately walked up to the lock with my windlass, passing everyone else standing about, watching.  The queues had formed due problems at the lock, due to (a) an obstruction behind the bottom mitre gate, so it wouldn't open properly, and (b) the same gate wouldn't close properly so leaving a gap, which was leaking water so badly that the lock was taking an age to fill up.  I phoned BW, who attended immediately, armed with long poles with an angled rake on the end (I can't remember the technical term for such poles).

Dave Lee & Roger Howard of BW, after much prodding around, managed to remove a large piece of wood which was stuck behind the gate.  Apparently, this lock is lined with oak, not concrete or bricks, due to the shifting sands, and periodically a piece of wood becomes free, usually lodging itself behind the gate.  It took us 2hours 50minutes to get through this bottom lock.  Not to worry, its nice to chat at locks.  I did however, get a little frustrated with the occupants of boats waiting to come up the locks just standing around, watching me opening and shutting paddles, locking through every boat.  I found myself saying to one lad who came up to the lock for a look "Young man" (trying not to sound like a character from a Paul Whitehouse sketch) "Are you on a boat coming up these locks?", "Yes" he replied.  "Well go back to your boat, get your windlass , and come and help".  Which he did.
Oh and the best bit of being stuck at the lock - we saw our first swallows of the year, so it's official, summer is on the way.

We stopped for these eggs on the way, bought from the canal side house between Br 15 & 16 - look out for the beer drinking mannequin, pull in & the eggs and an honesty bucket are alongside him.  And yes - they do taste as good as they look!

Past the Lion Quays Hotel.  Unfortunately the pontoons here are so silted up, that it's difficult to get into them.  You have to take a run at them, and 'beach' the bow on the silt.  It's impossible to get in stern first.  The result is that few people moor here, and tend to moor each side of the canal a bit further up, which makes it a bit conjested.

Over Chirk Aqueduct, and back into Wales.

A random pic this one - this boat didn't make the turn, and went straight into the tree!

Friday, 6 April 2012

White Hart Ellesmere - Beer Festival

I wonder where we'll be spending this bank holiday weekend ........

I shall be on the boat, waiting outside Chirk Marina with the engine running, waiting for Dave to finish work on Saturday evening (once all the Black Prince & Crest Narrowboats have departed), then we're OFF!

Beer Festival at the White Hart Ellesmere. 
Music, food, large selection of real ales, and lovely people. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

White out in Fron

What a difference a week makes.  We were sunbathing last week, after having a couple of meals on the O.C.F. (outdoor cooking facility).  Someone must have said the "B" word (barbeque) outloud, as the weather changed into this yesterday ....

The above two pics were taken at 7.02am (phone camera on night mode), when it was blowing a hooley, snow was finding it's way into the boat through the back hatch, then dripping, drip drip drip drip, branches and twigs were hitting the roof as they were blown out of the trees in the blizzard. Then the first boat came past!!  I kid you not.  Of course it was a private boat, hanging on to the tiller with one hand, and his boater's hat with the other hand. It was at that point I gave up trying to get back to sleep, and got up.

This is supposed to be of Dinas Bran in the snow, but it was that misty and wet, you could'nt make out where the snow capped mound was.

Most of the snow has gone today, just a bit left on the tops

 Unfortunately, the snow/wind/rain/blizzard brought down a load of debris from the ash trees, which now cover everything, including the roof of the boat.  The pollen has made marks on the paint - not good news for Hazel next door who has spent weeks - nay - months, scraping down, sanding, and painting the roof of their boat.

Easter is approaching, and the day boats (now 4 of them) are out and about.  This one was at full speed going past yesterday.  He did slow down after my second request - which wasn't as polite as the first request!  I have put the boat into summer 'crash' mode, and re-sited ornaments and glasses etc, so no damage done despite his waves.  Only hit once yesterday, and they apologised, so I don't mind that at all.  It's the ones who avoid eye contact after they've hit you that get my goat!

New addition to the bird feeding area;  This pheasant comes for his fill morning and evening.  Splendid colours at this time of year.  Glad Graham isn't around, or he'd be in a casserole before you can say Matilda Rose!

It is nice to be back.  We now have a new Tesco, opened in Cefn Mawr which is great for the area. Cefn has been on the decline for many years, and to have this facility nearby is wonderful.  However, I am always banging on about buying local produce, so this is exactly what I try and do when I can. So despite buying 'dry' goods in Tesco, I've been getting the meat and veg from Llangollen.  I ventured to Chirk on the bus today and went into the butchers there.  It's been years since I bought my meat there, as I seemed to be getting ripped off every time I went there.  So I gave them another chance and ended up with yesterday's bread and a small pork pie, when I paid for a big one.  Chops were OK though, but not as nice as Jones's.  Back to Llangollen for me then!