Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cucumbers and steam trains

This is what happens when you go away for two weeks to help your parents move house:

The cucumbers take over. And the courgettes. Runner beans. French beans. Beans are easier - you can freeze them - but what do you do with an excess of cukes? I think I'll put them into soup along with the courgettes and a few carrots and onions.

Tomatoes weren't great - poor pollination probably due to the very hot weather. But I did have some big and some very small:

It was a mad time in Nantwich, my home town, moving my parents from the four-bedroom family home they've lived in for forty odd years into a two-bedroom cottage in a retirement village. Even though they'd got rid of loads of stuff, on the day of the move I was packing boxes and chucking stuff/putting it aside for the charity shop in equal measure. I know moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do. Add to that moving someone else.

While we were there we took a trip to Llangollen just over the Welsh border from where my brother lives. It's a beautiful part of the world - somewhere we used to go to as a family when I was small. Probably more suited to adults who like walking really, although there was the thrill of the steam train:

Llangollen Railway is a heritage line which runs alongside the River Dee to Carrog 7.5 miles upstream. A wedding party had just been dropped on the platform (smuts on the bride's dress!) and the engine was reversing down the track. It was what they call a Wedding Experience, which makes it sound like some kind of trial run to see if you want to embark on the real thing. They're licensed for weddings and civil ceremonies, and you can do the whole caboodle on board. You can also do the Driver Experience. Gift vouchers are available, so I imagine it's a popular choice for adult children wanting to buy a birthday present for the dad who monopolised their childhood train set.

A canal also runs through Llangollen called, you guessed it, the Llangollen Canal. There are remains of lock gates, or more probably sluice gates, down by the river too, but I'm not sure what they were for.

The canal itself begins in Hurleston just outside Nantwich, and used to be called the Ellesmere Canal because it went via Ellesmere in Shropshire. There was a Grand Plan, as with many canals, to join one place to another for commercial traffic. This one was going to connect Liverpool with the West Midlands, and the industrial town of Ellesmere Port on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal was given its name because of this. The scheme was never completed, and the intended water source at Wrexham was never reached. Instead a feeder channel was built through Llangollen, and this is what we were looking at.

These narrowboats are horse drawn for the tourist trade. Here's the lasses or lads who pull them, finished for the day:

I'd love to hire a boat on this section of canal. The scenery is stunning. Only trouble is you'd have to go over the Pontcysylte Aqueduct, towpath on one side and nothing on the other. And then you'd have to come back.

While we were in England a member of our canine crew died suddenly from a heart attack. She was fourteen. RIP Frankie. We miss her terribly.

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