Monday 5th to Sunday 11th March 2012.

An empty pound below us at Aston Locks gave us an opportunity to visit the nearby town of Oswestry on Monday.

It was a 20 minute bus journey with the entertainment that comes from overhearing other passenger’s phone conversations. Have you noticed how everyone goes quiet when someone starts talking on their phone. Are we being polite or are we being nosey? I know which one I am.

Oswestry is an OK sort of place with a variety of shops, banks and cafes to make it worth a visit.

The Guildhall catches the eye and gives the curious visitor something to ponder with its mix of styles. Now the home of Oswestry Council and a theatre, it is referred to as a community facility.

Llwyd Mansion, a timber framed building, sits on the corner teasing the English with its spelling. There’s a plaque on the wall with the date 1604 so you’d think everyone would know by now how to say it or at least how to spell it.
However, it’s not that simple, Llwyd becomes Llywd if you look at the website as well as others such as and So which is it, is it Llwyd or Llywd?
Llwyd Mansion

On return to the boat at Queens Head I presented V with roses and a bottle of red from the boat’s wine cellar, this was just in case the flowers didn’t last until Friday, our 38th wedding anniversary.
38th anniv

As it happens they are still with us on Sunday, wish I could say the same for the wine.

We quit QH with its traffic noise on Tuesday and cruised to the end at Maesbury Marsh.
Maesbury Marsh is well known for The Cornovii, a Celtic people of the Iron Age era. We didn’t knowingly meet any while we were there but you never know who is walking the towpath at night do you.

The 48 hour moorings outside the canal café (Canal Central) looked inviting. I can’t put a finger on what time we stopped because we pendulum’d a few times before coming to rest.
The closest we could get to the side was 2 feet, such is the lack of dredging in these parts, possibly due to the local love of ‘rare’ water reeds or concern over dragonfly larvae that struggle to survive in anything over 18 inches of water. Shallow bottoms remind me of the K&A when it was classified as a Remainder Waterway.

Our nearest building, the Canal Central, was open for business. A shop/tearoom with holiday accommodation above served us tea (with leaves) and fresh scones.

Before leaving we bought local farm bacon (Treflach Farm) which was fabulous for breakfast, the kind of bacon that doesn’t shrink in the pan. I understand others haven‘t had the same service as us but we couldn’t fault it on our day.
Their Cefn Goleu Organic Eggs come from three legged Cefns and their Daioni Organic Milk from 5 legged Daionis. We didn’t see any on the day we visited but we have seen plenty of the water reeds that they must love.
And before you ask I can tell you that the tea pot arrived in a pretty handmade tea cosy. My gran would have loved it here, though at 116 years old she might have complained about the entrance door that refuses to close properly.

While I did essential boaty things V walked to the end of the Monty Canal, as far as it’s possible to go at this point in time. There are plans to open another section this year with the aim of joining up with other stretches of Monty further along towards Welshpool.

Tuesday night was spent in the restaurant of the Navigation Inn. This was a night out to celebrate our 38th. Couldn’t fault the food or the service. We recommend it.

Wednesday began our return to the rat race (the Llangollen). The weather looked fine first thing so we motored up to Weston Arm close to Frankton Locks, the entrance to the Montgomery Canal. On the way we encountered the famous attacking geese, guarding the Shropshire Fly Boat ‘Saturn’ rather than the lock where we’ve heard other boaters have encountered their vicious beaks.
lock guardians

flyboat saturn

My feelings about the Montgomery Canal aren’t as generous as V’s. It’s quiet and rural (if you don’t count the helicopters that practise dive bombing the canal) and easy cruising at the top end. But it soon gets weedy (canal reeds) and shallow, too shallow to even think about stopping on the side for the night.
Official moorings are plentiful at both ends of the canal, particularly as there are restrictions on how many boats are allowed down at any time and a 14 day maximum stay. Restoration has been brilliant but it looks as though the environmentalists have outnumbered boaters at canal planning and maintenance meetings.

The services at Weston Arm are brilliant, the cleanest I’ve seen for years, actually that’s a lie, those at Maesbury Marsh are just as spotless.
We shared the moorings overnight with Graham and Jill (on nb.Armadillo). Wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them again in the months ahead as I think we’re both heading in the same direction.
weston arm

Friday was our day back onto the Llango’
The lock keeper at Frankton Locks was very friendly and helpful, what a difference it makes to your day.
I’d love to have a peep inside the locky’s little house at the top, it’s an old building that someone has taken the trouble to paint in the old style.

But what is that just inside the door? Cameras are wonderful things aren’t they and with 12x zoom I may have spotted an old enamel chamber pot that needs emptying.
locky potty

Back at Ellesmere I realised this was an ideal opportunity to see the Quack.
My leg bump has started bothering me with a pain going up my thigh.

V’s phone call to the Health Centre was met with an invitation to call in at any time to register as a temporary patient to see a nurse. Within an hour I was seeing a doctor who told me I had phlebitis, which is nothing to worry about as long as a blood clot doesn’t form (or break away and go to the lungs, heart or brain).
It looks as though my little incident in Market Drayton where I slipped on the ice and dangled a leg between boat and bank started an infection which went into the veins. For the life of me I can’t remember washing the wound when I changed clothes, it was freezing cold at the time and I hadn’t finished my outside jobs so it probably skipped my mind.

“Have some anti-inflammatory pills” he said “and come back immediately if your leg swells up”.

V had that “I told you” look on her face as we walked to the chemists for a packet of Naproxen.

One day later and it’s already working. But have you seen the list of side effects of Naproxen? Horrendous, In future I’ll take my chances with a blood clot

And let this be a warning to those of us who are too casual with canal related injuries. Wash it, sterilise it and apply leeches to suspicious looking bumps.

And that’s about it for excitement this week. Just one more thing, our starter battery is playing up. There’s plenty of volts but not enough current to turn the engine. Solution – swap with a domestic battery and all is fine again. Both batteries work well in their new roles.

I had reservations about using a so called deep cycle battery as a starter battery until I read an article on Sterling Power’s website. I recommend a look at this if there are doubts about how ‘marine batteries’ are made [ ]