Monday, 6 June 2011

Travelling and Tragedy

Monday 23rd May to Sunday 5th June 2011

40 Miles, 28 Locks, 1 Tunnel, 8 Lift Bridges – for this fortnight

Totals: 493 Miles, 442 Locks, 14 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridge, 9 Swing Bridges

We finished our time on the Montgomery by returning via a revisit to the Queen’s Head and mooring overnight there and in the now disused western arm.

This really is such a beautiful canal and when further sections are opened it will become more of a mecca. We shall return for another visit – just on these 7 miles alone – peaceful, pleasant and perfect.

We had a need to return back to the Llangollen which involved our intention to visit the Crick boat show.

This involved mooring outside the arm to Ellesmere, catching a bus to Shrewsbury and then picking up the hire car from Enterprise.

We were able to offload a case at the Tourist Information point in the bus station for a pound – they looked after it and we were a fair bit lighter.

Armed with a map we did what we usually do – take the walking map tour of the new town where we have found ourselves.

This tour was of the “shuts” of Shrewsbury – shut being a local word for the pedestrian alleyways that were around that ran between streets – it reminded us somewhat of Lyon (France) where they have covered alleyways that provided access to the behind the streets apartment blocks.

Whilst those of Shrewsbury were not in the same league it was fascinating to see some of the areas that could quite easily have been missed.

We are not sure of the standing of a town like Shrewsbury in the mind of most people in England, but if anyone is in the area, please do visit it is so lovely.

The good people at Enterprise duly picked us up at nominated time and place and within a very short time we were on our way – to Rugby.

All went well until we were about a mile from the Junction 1 on the M6 when we came to a sudden halt (no movement of the traffic) – we had been warned just seconds before on the overhead advisement sign that there was congestion on J1.

Slowly we crept forward; all traffic on the other side of the road had been stopped – we knew there was an accident of some type – emergency vehicles using the hard shoulder whizzing past.

Eventually we saw why – an accident involving a small car and a van – helicopter on the road – we had no idea of knowing the seriousness of the injuries, but the ‘copter suggested it was – we hope that those involved are all OK.

Onto Rugby and the Travelodge near the station – seemed well and fine, but – 2 adults sharing a room – one towel, we were lucky as it turned out – same thing for the 2nd day – but they couldn’t get us another towel – they had run out – a breakfast voucher – all OK – but you need to present it to get your cereal bowl and plate (a bit demeaning in this day and age) – 2nd morning they ran out of orange juice, milk for the coffee machine and butter satchets as well.

Overall we were two of the lucky ones – apparently they had overbooked and 4 unlucky people were destined not to be able to even get to their rooms as they didn’t have one.

I don’t think the small saving that we made compared to the Premier Inn where we have stayed before will entice us back here again.

Crick show was very good even if there was a bit of late morning drizzle – all fined up and was quite enjoyable in the afternoon – we saw all of the things that we needed to see – marinas (for winter moorings), window people about double-glazed windows, paint people about wood finishes, bedding people about mattresses and spoke to Wilsons about covers – yes they are still in business, no there is no problems with the company – they have simply merged three companies into two (or was it one).

All our questions have been answered.

We were off early the next morning to Hopton-on-Sea in Norfolk to Maggie and Paddy – had a really good day with them even though Paddy was getting over some food poisoning; stayed the night with them and then off about 10am.

On the way back we visited Overwater Marina (near Audlem), as we had spoken to them at the show so thought we should see it I person – we were very impressed with the overall layout; proximity to Audlem and the village itself; what was available on site – this is now top of our list for this winter.

Back to the boat – all OK – moved her into the arm on the following morning and returned the car back to Shrewsbury, via a short visit to Whitchurch.

We moved off the following morning going past Whixall Moss (where we moored again); ventured down the Prees arm (on foot); Grindley Brook (moored).

We had decided to move early from Grindley Brook to avoid the rush and congestion that we saw the previous day at the staircase – so away by 7am in foggy conditions – down and through all 6 locks by 8am.

I was walking between the Willey Moor lock and Quoisely Lock when the guy from the boat in front was walking back – “better slow down and moor up – we have contacted the police – there is a body in the water”

Not a pleasant sight – drifting with the current of the water from Llangollen – a man in his late 50’/early 60’s.

The police arrived after a little delay – they used the boat in front to help retrieve the body and get him onto the back.

Further waiting for them to find a tarpaulin to cover the body; the paramedics to confirm death and then SOCO to photograph and finally for undertakers to arrive.

After a wait of about 3 hours they said that we could carry on – they were still waiting for the undertakers – they had been aware of the need of some boaters to get boats back and the need for others to be underway, but they needed to be respectful of the person who had died and we could not disagree.

They had procedures to follow and had kept us as informed as much as they could – they had given an estimate of about how long it would take and give or take 5 minutes it was correct.

His sister had been at the scene to identify the body.

It transpired that the man concerned had had a traffic accident just over the next bridge – the car was still there – and in all probability had staggered dazed down the towpath in search of help and into the canal.

A sad and tragic way for a life to end.

We each have a limited number of days and we need to make the most of each and enjoy life to the full as we just do not know when it will be taken away from us.

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