Sunday, 26 August 2012

Wildlife in The Fron

Can you guess what it is yet ....

A heron perched on the top of the beech tree!

 Cheeky squirrel at the fat balls

From the birds ... to the bees ......

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Chuggers arrive at Trevor Basin

We've had a few Canal & River Trust  "face-to-face fundraisers" operating in Trevor Basin over the last few weeks.  Chuggers is the name which has been given in the press to fundraisers (usually a private contractor) working on behalf of a charity in order to obtain support/donations.  When the first bloke arrived and pitched up, I asked him "as you are wearing the CRT uniform, are you an employee of CRT?"  He avoided answering the question, twice.  So I assume that the answer was "no".  He was a nice enough bloke, but didn't know enough about the area in which he was operating.  He had pitched up outside the information centre with a CRT uniform on, and was intercepting visitors to the TIC, who had genuine questions to ask about the Pontcysyllte aqueduct, which he could not answer, but changed the subject to talk about the Caen Hill flight of locks (in Wiltshire).  This really confused the tourists, who were then looking around for said locks.  He kept joking that he couldn't answer the questions asked of him -  Beccy & I kept pleading with him to direct the enquiring tourists to the tourist information centre - that's why we're here!  It didn't help when people looking for Jones the Boat [trips] were directed accross the footbridge to Anglo Welsh.

Last Sunday was a particularly busy lunchtime at Trevor Basin.  I counted 15 boats at one time all trying to manoeuvre around the junction to Llangollen. Boats were stacked up waiting to come through BR31 from Llangollen, so those coming accross the Aqueduct from Fron couldn't turn up towards Llan. The route through to the end of the basin was blocked with boats waiting at Trevor to go accross the aqueduct towards Fron. Eventually, one of the crew of the boat which had been there the longest, went over to the other side of the Aqueduct and asked the boats to stop coming accross, as there just wasn't any room.

 Unfortunately, this request was ignored by "Jones the [trip] Boat", who then blocked the aqueduct.  The boats behind the trip boat had heeded the warning, and had now stopped on the Fron side of the aqueduct.  Too late.  Jones the Boat, who was now stuck on the aqueduct with nowhere to go, then jumped off his boat and started to shout instructions to all the boats confined to the junction.  As you can imagine, the waiting boaters were not exactly amused by this, especially as he had been asked not to proceed accross the aqueduct, and an argument ensued.  I must say that despite all the shouting, nobody swore, which was nice. Probably due to the crowd of what must have been 100 people, now gathered watching with interest.  The worst insult was "idiotic muppet" - directed at Jones the Boat. 

Eventually, with alot of bumping and scraping, boats began to move across the aqueduct - once Jones the Boat had got out of the way.   Jones the Boat then turned to me and said that I should have sorted out the traffic jam!  "I work for Wrexham Council now, not CRT - nothing to do with me".  It was him who messed it up!  Don't go blaming me - I was just watching with the rest of them!  With many novice drivers caught up in this boat jam, it was the proffessional driver who got it wrong.

We haven't been out on the boat for the last few weeks as there always seems to be too much going on, what with work, appointments, family visits and RAIN!  We do however get a great bus service to and from Llangollen on a Sunday.  You can't get a bus after 5pm during the week, but on Sundays they're every hour till 11pm.   Guess who was in Llangollen last week .....

Thomas the Tank Engine !!


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Flowers - lots of them

Dave has, as usual, been working hard with the flowers this summer.  Unfortunately, they've taken quite a battering recently with this wet weather.  The downpours have been quite ferocious.  Dave also repainted the roof - well it's no good having fancy flowers on a tatty roof is it?!

The pots have gone from this (end of May) ......

 To this ..........

Dave's efforts were rewarded, when we picked up second prize in the Best Kept Garden Narrowboat Container section at a presentation held in Trevor Community centre on Thursday.  We were pipped at the post by Jan & Dave on Pipe Dream who deservedly came first.  Only a bit of fun, but it gets people involved in the community spirit.
Note to Dave Smith - see, I can do a blog without moaning - it's just not as much fun!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Working for C & RT

Since the last blog, I've taken a chill pill, and sat in a darkened room listening to Pink Floyd and keep repeating the mantra "only two busy weeks to go", which has helped with keeping calm with speeding boats - that and going out for the day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  I didn't leave early enough yesterday, and was hit twice before 9.30am, the second boat, when I opened the front doors & gestured "what are you doing?" replied "well I'm sorry dear, but it was only a small bump" - oh, well that's all right then! 
There's light at the end of the tunnel!
The day boats continue to speed past, with the occupants usually dressed as pirates - what on earth that's got to do with the canals - I don't know.  One day last week, Jack from Anglo Welsh had to retrieve one of them from below New Martin locks (the day boat - not a pirate), as they just kept going - then realised that they'd gone too far.  Anglo Welsh then had to then go & pick up the passengers to return them to their car at Trevor Basin, and it was left to Jack to return the boat - after having winded.  It was 9.30pm, in the dark, when he came passed us, so his working day would finish at around 10pm.  I hope they lost their deposit.

I was contacted by my old boss at C & RT a couple of weeks ago, who asked if I would be interested in working at Llangollen for a week or so, collecting the mooring fees in Llangollen basin, covering for Mike who was on holiday, which I did, and thoroughly enjoyed.  Until the last day that is, when a particularly aggressive boater (NB  Vadere II) decided he didn't like the colour of my uniform, and proceeded to rant at me for a good 30 minutes about the state of the canals, CRT management, not having a second elsan point in Llangollen, no disabled moorings for disabled boaters, the price of fish, and anything else he could think of.  After 20 minutes or so of shouting at me (I had given up trying to reply to his ranting), he asked me "what influence did I have on C & RT policy"!!!  Look pal - in case you hadn't noticed - I'm a temporary operative - you can't get lower than me in the food chain of CRT!  I politely replied "none what so ever".  This was then followed by him preaching for another 10 minutes.  His biggest gripe was that as he was moored in the basin, he was too far away from the elsan point for him to cart his loos.  I pointed out that he was welcome to moor right outside the elsan point on the linear moorings, but this seemed too confusing for him.  Eventually, he left when I asked him what exactly it was that he wanted me to do to help him - he didn't have an answer!  He left armed with telephone numbers which I'd passed on to him, of people who might be able to discuss matters fully with him, such as Northwich Office, Robin Evans, John West etc.  The following day I was working in my usual job for Wrexham Borough Council in the Information Centre in Trevor Basin and who should appear, but Mr. Angry Boater - looking for an elsan point as he had declined to use the facilities in Llangollen.  I politely said he would have to go back to Llangollen or on to Chirk Marina as there was no elsan point in Trevor (ha!)  He looked puzzled at me "have we met"  "oh yes" said I "I won't be forgetting you in a hurry". It then dawned on him, and he sloped off.  It's such a shame that some people take the view that because you're wearing a CRT uniform, that they have the right to be insulting and aggressive towards you.  I found myself  being excruciatingly patient with this particular a***hole, just because I was wearing the uniform.  Had it been a meeting in a pub, then conversation would have been completely different - but of course he/they realise that - that's why they feel then can speak to you as they do.

Oh, and I had the usual couple of boats, who concoct a fabulous story in order to get a few more days mooring at Llangollen basin (it's 48hrs max).  This couple of boats were travelling together, and told me that they had already spoken to the moorings officer and he had agreed that it was ok for them to stay 3 more days.  3!!!! I don't think so!  So when I spoke to the moorings officer to check, he confirmed that he had NOT spoken to anyone, as he was on holiday!  Nice try.  Not my problem though - I left that one for the regular CRT man who was coming back on duty the following day.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Very Busy Llangollen Canal - It must be August!

It's rather busy up here this week - to say the least.  As in previous years, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the busiest days, which some have called 'manic' and others, just 'ridiculous' with 12 boats waiting to go through Whitehurst Tunnel at one point yesterday - with no one giving way at the other end - nor with any one with the sense to just walk through the tunnel and stop them coming through.  You then end up with a massive convoy causing disruption in both directions, with boats travelling too close behind one another.  Why some in these convoys just don't moor up for 10 mins and have a cuppa is beyond me, if they did, they'd have the canal to themselves again, and not end up tailgaiting. 

On Tuesday we counted how many boats passed us throughout the day (yes, I know we should get out more, but we were both off, and wanted to watch the Olympics).  Result - 96 boat movements past us.  Not quite hitting the hundred mark, but not that far off either.  Unfortunately 75% of these boats went past at quite a speed.  I politely asked a particularly fast boat (Snowmane, hired from Chas Harderns) "please will you slow down a little bit", but the 4 on the back of the boat just laughed and sped up.  Thanks pal.
There he goes, he had slowed down at this point as the canal narrows, so unfortunately he missed bumping into the concrete sides.  On Wednesday afternoon, whilst minding my own business aboard Beefur, all of a sudden a boat approaching me suddenly sped up to full throttle and went past at full tilt. Yep - it was Knob 'Ed from yesterday.  I stuck my head out of the window and asked if all the speed was for my benefit, to which they just laughed and roared on past the line of moored boats.  Now we put up with alot of knocks, bumps and fast boats at the top end of the Llangollen, but to purposely be so vindictive is just not in the spirit of boating.  Yes, I did complain to Chas Harderns for all the good it would do.  And before the rope tying police start leaving comments, yes - we are securely tied thank you.  Dai next door has resorted to a truck tensioning line, as well as ropes, but he still gets rocked around.  Mind you he has an antedote to the speeders - he feels the wave coming, quickly starts his Lister HA2, then as the boat approaches, puts Fern in gear & the approaching boat is then catapulted into the concrete side opposite with the force of the 28" prop.  (Fern is a 70ft ex FMC boat).  That usually slows 'em down.
 Hold on!

This is a pic of a boat passing us at 06.14 on a SUNDAY morning. 

After another busy day yesterday, with boats bumping into you without an apology, and boats speeding past, I just felt like untying the ropes and going - until something like this happens .....

 The sun comes out, and a boat load of Sweedish women come past (on tickover), happily playing their rendition of The Irish Rover...
Hazel & I both applauded and thanked them very much.
 Then my lovely husband appears with a huge fresh trout for the O.C.F. (Outdoor Cooking Facility - don't mention the "B" word or it'll rain)
and we share the company of our lovely friends (company - not the trout!)
(L-R Rick, Hazel, Dai, Me, Dave)

Speeding boats become insignificant with a glass of pinot grigio, sitting in the sunshine on our lovely mooring, maps out looking at different canals and planning this winter's jaunt, and you remember what it's all about......  Iechyd da!